Here’s a troubling and intriguing story that might otherwise have been buried on the back pages, little noticed, and soon forgotten.
But these are the still the early days of an administration that both claims and proclaims the moral high ground, so this apparently cynical little exercise of business as usual already has some serious legs — and seems to be sprouting more of them by the hour.
Byron York broke it today in the Washington Examiner under the headline “What’s behind Obama’s sudden attempt to fire the AmeriCorps inspector general?”
There are a number of unanswered questions today about President Obama’s abrupt decision to fire the inspector general of the AmeriCorps program, Gerald Walpin. Obama sent letters to House and Senate leaders yesterday informing them that he was firing Walpin, effective 30 days from the date of the letters.
“It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General,” the president wrote. “That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General.”
The 30 day requirement is important because last year Congress passed the Inspectors General Reform Act, which was designed to strengthen protections for IGs, who have the responsibility of investigating allegations of waste, fraud and abuse within federal agencies, against interference by political appointees or the White House. Part of the Act was a requirement that the president give Congress 30 days’ notice before dismissing an IG. One of the co-sponsors of the Act was then-Sen. Barack Obama.
The Act also requires the president to outline the cause for his decision to remove an IG. Beyond saying that he did not have the “fullest confidence” in Walpin, Obama gave no reason for his action.
There are two big questions about the president’s actions. One, why did he decide to fire Walpin? And two, did he abide by the law that he himself co-sponsored?
Suffice it to say that the attempts so far to defang the story (from White House Counsel Greg Craig, and Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform Norman Eisen), have only managed to raise more questions than they have answered.
At least one thing is settled conclusively by this story with its fascinating trail of Updates: Print journalism as we have known it is already obsolete and, before too long, will be deader than a doornail.