Trump draws fire over move to replace current HHS inspector general

In keeping with their opposition to President Donald Trump’s every move, Democrats were outraged upon learning of his decision to nominate a new inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The announcement by Trump drew ire from the left because the official being replaced recently issued a report citing a medical supply shortage in hospitals across the country, Axios reported.

Trump nominates new HHS IG

In a news release from the White House Friday evening, it was announced that President Trump had made several key appointments and nominations, one of which included the inspector general post at HHS.

Chosen for that position was Boston-based Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason C. Weida, who has served in that prosecutor’s office since 2016 and previously served in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy. He also has experience as a clerk at both the district and circuit court levels.

Prior to his government service, Weida worked at two major national law firms and received official recognition for his pro bono contributions. It was noted by the White House that Weida “has overseen numerous complex investigations in health care and other sectors.”

Predecessor’s report raises controversy

However qualified for the post Weida may be was of no importance to President Trump’s critics, though. They ignored the nominee and focused instead on whom he would be replacing: current HHS Inspector General Christi Grimm, who released a watchdog report in early April that raised alarms about purported medical supply shortages in hospitals across the nation.

That report was pounced upon by Democrats and the media and used explicitly to undermine the president’s narrative that there was an adequate and growing supply of in-demand personal protective equipment and other gear required to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Politico reported at the time that Trump had sharply criticized Grimm’s report as being “wrong” and had questioned her motivations as a career bureaucrat. The media outlet noted that Grimm served in the inspector general’s office in some capacity since 1999.

Likewise, Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at HHS, disputed the conclusions drawn from Grimm’s report and pointed out that her findings of shortages dated from the period prior to the start of the administration’s herculean efforts at rapidly increasing the supply of PPE and other necessary materials.

Confirmation uncertain

There is another even more partisan reason for the uproar over Weida’s nomination, as Grimm had been specifically tasked by House Democrats to investigate reports that Trump fired a top health official who had supposedly attempted to limit the use of antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 infections.

In reality, that official had in fact signed off on the use of the drug and wasn’t “fired” at all but merely moved to a different post due to concerns about his leadership skills.

It remains to be seen when, or even if, the Senate will vote to confirm Weida to the post for which he has been nominated, or if he will blocked from confirmation like so many other nominees President Trump has put forward over the past few years.

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