Trump responded to a reporter’s question about the report prepared by Grimm during an April 6 press conference. Asked about the report’s conclusion that there were shortages of critical materials at 300 major hospitals across the country, what followed was a remarkably telling exchange.
Trump: “It’s just wrong. Did I hear the word ‘inspector general?’ Really? It’s wrong. And they’ll talk to you about it. It’s wrong.
Reporter: “But this is your own government.”
Trump: “Uh, it’s … well, where did he come from … the inspector general? What’s his name?”
Reporter: “It came from the inspector general report—“
Trump: “No, what’s his name? What’s his name?”
Reporter: “I don’t know his name off of the top of my head.”
Trump: “Well, find me his name. Let me know. Okay? If you find me his name, I’d appreciate it.”
First, Trump assumed the inspector general was male. Because of course he did. Second, it’s clear that just the phrase “inspector general” is triggering for Trump. That’s not just because of the whistleblower report. Trump has conducted a general purge of inspector generals for years. These are people who check your numbers and report when you’re lying. And Trump cannot tolerate that.
But Trump demanding that reporters get him the name of the inspector general speaks to another of Trump’s defining features. In addition to being a constant liar and braggart, he’s also extremely lazy.
As The New York Times reports, when Trump learned the Grimm had severed in her role for years, he immediately called her an Obama supporter and declared the report was politically biased. In fact, Grimm has worked in her department since 1998, and was not a political appointee. Of course, none of that matters. All that matters is that Trump found an excuse to dismiss the findings.
Trump tweeted that Grimm “spent 8 years with the Obama Administration” which is true. But then, she also spent eight years with the Bush administration. Trump then tweeted something else …
Trump: “Did she Report on the failed H1N1 Swine Flu debacle where 17,000 people died?”
Which is a tweet that may have made a little more sense on April 8 … although that did happen to be the exact day on which the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States exceeded the entire number of deaths through the whole 2008-2009 flu season.
In any case, after a year in which Trump saw no reason to pick an inspector general for HHS, he’s suddenly been inspired to fill the role. Because he belatedly realized that leaving a gap there only meant that a dedicated public servant with decades of experience was actually doing that work.
To fill the slot, Trump has named attorney Jason Weida who has a relationship with HHS. In that he defended the agency in a lawsuit against new rules put in under Trump. Specifically, Weida defended the new rules allowing employers to block funding for contraceptives. So Trump is replacing someone who wrote a report accurately reporting healthcare shortages, with an attorney who justified denying healthcare.
Exactly what America needs in this crisis.