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Trump’s Inspector General Has Expressed Dim Views of Congressional Oversight

  • April 08, 2020

After attending Temple University on a wrestling scholarship, Mr. Miller went to Westminster Theological Seminary before shifting gears and going to law school.

Mr. Miller was tapped for the job at the General Services Administration by Mr. Bush, and he gained a reputation as one of the nation’s most scrupulous investigators. His yearlong inquiry into wasteful spending by the agency’s leaders prompted in 2012 the resignation of its administrator and other officials who were caught spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a lavish conference in Las Vegas.

In recent years, Mr. Miller has become outspoken about protecting inspectors general from becoming political tools weaponized by Congress, where some lawmakers have proposed relocating inspectors from individual agencies into a single, independent unit that would be accountable to Congress.

Mr. Miller said that idea, which was proposed in 2018 by former Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Democrat of North Dakota, posed a “danger” to the independence of inspectors general. In an op-ed published in 2018 in The Hill newspaper, Mr. Miller laid out an argument that suggested he, like Mr. Barr, subscribed to the “unitary executive theory,” which says presidents have broad control over the executive branch.

“The notion of an independent inspector general within the executive branch remains suspect by those who insist on a unitary executive,” Mr. Miller wrote, explaining that he believed congressional influence over inspectors general creates concerns over separation of powers. “The argument that this very independence is inconsistent with a unitary executive becomes more persuasive when I.G.s act on behalf of the legislative branch.”

Mr. Miller elaborated on that point during a discussion at Patrick Henry College last year.

“If you’re reporting to the Congress in that fashion, your independence is jeopardized,” Mr. Miller said, describing many congressional requests as politically motivated. “You’re looking at whatever the political agenda is for the Congress or the Senate and being used basically as a tool for them.”

Those comments could raise doubts among lawmakers that Mr. Miller will abide by the statutory requirements that the special inspector general submit quarterly reports to Congress and notify Congress if requests for information are refused.

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