On the same night that he fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, a watchdog who was allegedly investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over any number of potentially corrupt activities, Trump also terminated a watchdog working for the Department of Transportation. As Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington explains:
At DOT, the acting IG was overseeing a high profile investigation of Secretary Chao’s alleged favoritism benefiting her husband Senator Mitch McConnell’s political prospects, but has now been replaced with a political appointee from within the agency. The acting IG’s ouster calls into question the future of the Chao-McConnell investigation, other critical oversight, and whether the watchdog was dismissed for unearthing damaging information.
Trump’s decision to sideline DOT acting IG Mitch Behm (who has 17 years of experience with OIG) was lost in the shuffle of outrage following the announcement that Trump planned to fire the State Department IG, but potential conflicts of interest abound. The most high profile is the DOT OIG’s review of allegations that Secretary Chao gave Senator McConnell’s constituents special treatment and helped steer millions of federal dollars to Kentucky as he is facing low approval ratings and a tough reelection bid.
Secretary Chao also served as Deputy Secretary of Transportation under President George HW Bush and Secretary of Labor under President George W Bush. Her father is a wealthy and successful Chinese-American shipping magnate who has donated tens of millions of dollars to Senator Mitch McConnell, even before he married Chao in 1993 (McConnell's first wife, Sherrill Redmon, is a feminist scholar at Smith; neither she or their Democrat daughters discuss their relationship with McConnell). In 2019, Chao's brother-in-law, Gordon Hartogensis, became the director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) under the Labor Department, a nomination that was confirmed by McConnell.
Trump just removed the IG investigating Elaine Chao. Chao's husband, Mitch McConnell, already vetted the replacement. [Donald K. Sherman / Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington]
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