In light of President Donald Trump’s recent dismissals and demotions of several inspectors general, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, announced June 30 that he is unable to support the nomination of Katherine A. Crytzer of Tennessee to be inspector general of the Tennessee Valley Authority after the nominee failed, both in-person and in written testimony, to demonstrate a willingness to serve as TVA inspector general independently and free from political bias.
“Over the past several months, the president has unceremoniously removed, replaced or reassigned inspectors general who dared to do their jobs and conduct oversight on the administration,” said Carper. “Unfortunately, during her confirmation process, Ms. Crytzer has been unwilling to demonstrate that she will serve independently as IG. Given the president’s dismissals and demotions, we need strong and independent watchdogs in these posts who will be willing to speak out against unethical behavior and injustice. Ms. Crytzer has demonstrated she is unwilling to speak truth to power and, ultimately, unable to serve as an independent, non-partisan and unbiased inspector general.”
During her nomination hearing, Carper asked Crytzer if it was acceptable to remove IGs from their jobs simply because they aggressively and independently pursue evidence of wrongdoing, “even if that wrongdoing is conducted at the highest political levels?” In response, Crytzer did not say this was wrong, and said instead, “I don’t know the full situation for each of those instances that you have mentioned.”
When asked whether it is acceptable for Trump to subject IGs to public attacks on their credibility, Crytzer again did not say this was wrong, saying that, “I am not familiar with all the facts in the situation that you have just mentioned.”
In questions submitted after the hearing, Carper provided Crytzer with an opportunity to correct the record and clarify her commitment to independence. However, in her responses, athe nominee failed to prove that she would serve independently.
When asked whether the president was wrong to fire IGs for pursuing wrongdoing within the administration, Crytzer quoted the Inspector General Act stating “an inspector general ‘may be removed from office by the president’” and said that it would be inappropriate for her to speculate on what motivated the president’s decisions.
When asked whether she agreed with a letter sent by dozens of IGs — including the acting TVA IG — that expressed concern with the Department of Justice memorandum which overruled the inspector general of the Intelligence Community’s lawful determination that he was legally required to forward the Ukrainian whistleblower complaint to Congress, citing its chilling effect on whistleblower disclosures, Crytzer replied, “In my current capacity, I serve as a lawyer for the Department of Justice. As such it would not be appropriate for me to opine on my agreement or disagreement with an opinion issued by the Department of Justice.”
When asked whether she had any concerns that the president’s personal attacks on inspectors general were damaging the IG community’s ability to conduct independent oversight, she ignored the premise of the question and instead stated, “I have no reason to doubt any inspector general’s commitment to fully and faithfully perform his or her duties under the Inspector General Act.”
Read Crytzer’s responses to Carper’s questions for the hearing record at https://bit.ly/2BijeOe.