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Trump makes controversial coronavirus decision as Congress concerns skyrocket
April 8, 2020
The US president has removed Inspector General (IG) Glenn Fine who was set to oversee the government’s $2.3trillion (£1.9trillion) coronavirus response. The news came from the spokeswoman for the official’s office on Tuesday, fuelling concerns in Congress about the oversight of the relief package.
It is Trump’s most recent attack against the federal watchdogs whose job it is to prevent government waste, fraud and abuse following his removal last week of the intelligence community’s IG.
He has also sharply criticised the IG who oversees the Department of Health and Human Services.
Mr Fine was only named as chairing the committee last week, which included the government’s response to coronavirus including health policy and the largest economic relief package in US history.
Trump has since designated the role to the Environmental Protection Agency’s IG to be the new acting Pentagon IG, a spokeswoman said.
This means that Mr Fine is not eligible for the role overseeing the coronavirus package, known as the Cares Act.
Democrats in Congress have said the most recent move from the president has reinforced their determination to intervene in the unfolding pandemic.
They are currently attempting to oversee the massive spending package passed last month to prop up the economy as the country grapples with the disease.
Earlier this week Trump paid tribute to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson who is currently in intensive care after being admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital in London.
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He confirmed that his administration had contacted “all of Johnson’s doctors”.
He added that he had asked two leading companies that helped find treatments for AIDS and Ebola to contact London immediately.
It came during the president’s daily coronavirus news conference at the White House.
In a message to Mr Johnson, Trump said: “I want to send best wishes to a very good friend of mine, and a friend to our nation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
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“We are very saddened to hear that he was taken into intensive care this afternoon.
“Americans are all praying for his recovery – he’s been a really good friend and something very special: strong, resolute, doesn’t quit, doesn’t give up.”
Discussing the coronavirus, he later admitted: “When you get into intensive care it really, really gets serious with this disease.”
Downing Street has since said Mr Johnson remains conscious and was moved to intensive care as a precaution should he require ventilation in the coming days.
Mr Johnson is said to be receiving “excellent care” in an NHS hospital in London.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has taken on the role of First Secretary of State and Secretary of State and has been asked by Mr Johnson to deputise “where necessary”.
The Queen has been kept informed about the prime minister’s health by Downing Street, according to Buckingham Palace.
Mr Johnson was given oxygen late on Monday afternoon before being taken into intensive care, according to the BBC’s Chris Mason.
A Number 10 statement read: “The prime minister has been under the care of doctors at St Thomas’ Hospital, in London, after being admitted with persistent symptoms of coronavirus.
“Over the course of (Monday) afternoon, the condition of the prime minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the intensive care unit at the hospital.”
It was confirmed on March 27 that Mr Johnson had contracted COVID-19, a disease caused by coronavirus.