Mattis Defends Inspector General Fired by Trump From Overseeing Coronavirus Stimulus, Says He Has 'Integrity of Highest Order'

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has praised Glenn Fine, the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Defense who was recently fired by President Donald Trump after being chosen to oversee the disbursement of $2.2 trillion in stimulus money.

"Mr. Fine is a public servant in the finest tradition of honest, competent governance. In my years of extensive engagement with him as our Department of Defense's acting Inspector General, he proved to be a leader whose personal and managerial integrity were always of the highest order," Mattis told Yahoo News.

Fine previously served as Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice from 2000 to 2011 before eventually being nominated into his role at the Department of Defense by then-President Barack Obama in Jan. 2016. On March 30, Fine was named as chair of the newly formed Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) which sought to oversee the spending of congressionally approved financial stimulus funds.

Department of Defense spokeswoman Dwrena Allen said that Fine will be replaced by Sean O'Donnell, the current inspector general at the Environmental Protection Agency. O'Donnell will now serve as the acting Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Defense until Congress approves Trump's new nominee.

Trump's new nominee for the Department of Defense's Inspector General role is Jason Abend. Abend currently serves as a Senior Policy Advisor for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis
Former U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis visits FOX News Channel’s "The Story with Martha MacCallum" on September 03, 2019 in New York City. Steven Ferdma/Getty

Trump showed his discomfort with financial oversight when he signed the $2.2 trillion stimulus package last month. At the time, Trump issued a signing statement forbidding PRAC's chosen Inspector General from reporting to Congress without his supervision, limiting the information the Inspector General could convey.

Congressional Democrats had required the Inspector General's oversight as a condition for agreeing to the inclusion of a $500 billion corporate bailout fund in the $2.2 trillion economic stabilization package.

Mattis wasn't the only one to praise Fine's work as an Inspector General. When Fine resigned as Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice in 2011, The Washington Post wrote of him, "The job of Inspector General is often thankless one, requiring the ability to make unflinching and crucial assessments that are not always well received by colleagues. The Justice Department employed one of the best during the past decade in the person of Glenn A. Fine, who recently stepped down."

The publication continued, "Mr. Fine was instrumental in unearthing problems and identifying solutions in the mammoth agency since joining the IG's office in the mid-1990s. He took over the reins in 2000 and led investigations into all facets of the department's operations."