President Donald Trump moved to replace the Department of Health and Human Services’ watchdog Friday evening, nearly a month after publicly blasting her at a press conference after she released a report on nationwide medical supply shortages.
Principal Deputy Inspector General Christi Grimm, a career official, determined in early April that U.S. hospitals were alarmingly underprepared for the coronavirus crisis ― an assessment based on interviews with administrators for 323 hospitals across 46 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico conducted between March 23 and 27.
Hospitals were struggling to obtain enough protective equipment for staff, including thermometers to take their temperatures, in addition to ventilators, IV poles and beds for patients.
“It’s just wrong,” Trump said of the report at an April 6 coronavirus task force briefing. He quickly pivoted to attack the source of the report, asking, “Where did he come from, the inspector general? What’s his name? No, what’s his name? What’s his name?”
Later, after learning the inspector was a woman, Trump said: “It still could be her opinion. When was she appointed? Do me a favor and let me know. Let me know now. I have to know.”
Grimm began her career at the inspector general’s office in 1999 and assumed her current role in January. After the news conference, former HHS Inspector General Dan Levinson defended her, saying she “is a highly respected career senior executive.”
“Nothing in her longstanding career of public service would suggest otherwise,” Levinson said.
Trump also attacked Grimm in a tweet, due to the fact that her two-decades-long career meant she had served under the Obama administration. The president declared her report politically biased and suggested Grimm should have talked to “the Admirals, Generals, V.P. & others in charge” instead of people working at hospitals across the country.
The White House announced Trump’s chosen replacement in a news release after business hours on Friday.
Jason Weida, an assistant U.S. attorney in Boston, will replace Grimm if he is confirmed by the Senate.
According to the release, Weida has “overseen numerous complex investigations in healthcare and other sectors.”
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