The head of the Drug Enforcement Agency is expected to resign soon, according to multiple media reports.
DEA Administrator Michelle Leonhart has worked at the agency in various capacities for 35 years, but the recent firestorm created by the revelation that DEA agents were engaging with cartel-funded prostitutes proved too explosive to overcome. Leonhart has served as administrator for five years.
The outgoing DEA chief was eviscerated at a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing last week, when lawmakers said Leonhart did not have control of the organization, did not inflict severe enough punishment on the malfeasant agents, and obstructed a Justice Department investigation. Leonhart said she was statutorily removed from the disciplinary process, but committee members were not appeased.
Republican Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz said Leonhart did not go far enough to create an environment in which firing the employees would have been easier.
“You may cry in the mirror, but you were in a position to do it and you didn’t,” Chaffetz said. “It’s an embarrassment you don’t fire that person. It’s an embarrassment you don’t revoke that person’s security clearance.”
After the hearing, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was asked if President Obama still had confidence in Leonhart, but Earnest demurred.
“The president has very high expectations for everybody who serves in his administration about their conduct and about keeping the public’s trust,” Earnest said. Asked if Leonhart failed to live up to those expectations, he added, “I think I’ve said all I have to say about this topic.”
On Tuesday, Earnest reiterated the White House’s concerns about the sex-party reports, but declined to confirm Leonhart’s resignation.
In response to the short-term suspensions imposed on DEA agents who engaged in illicit activities, lawmakers vowed to produce legislation to cut the red tape involved in firing federal employees who break the law.
Late Tuesday, Chaffetz and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking member Elijah Cummings issued a joint statement in support of Leonhart’s retirement:
“In light of the DOJ Inspector General’s report and the testimony we heard before our committee, Ms. Leonhart’s retirement is appropriate. With the opportunity now for fresh leadership, we are hopeful that the DEA can restore itself to an agency of distinction and excellence. The IG’s report exposed the bad behavior that was allowed to fester for more than a decade, and our Committee’s hearing shined a spotlight on the lack of accountability for these abuses. This process is strong evidence of how proper and bipartisan oversight can lead to a better functioning government for the citizens it serves.”
What We're Following See More »
"US President Donald Trump will visit the UK in mid-July, according to Sky sources," with a formal announcement expected soon. "Mr Trump was due to open the new US Embassy in London in February but cancelled the trip saying the building was too expensive and tweeting that he was not a 'big fan' of the decision to move its location."
"North Korea’s underground nuclear test site has become unusable after a large part of it collapsed," say experts from the University of Science and Technology of China. "Their evidence comes just one week after a surprise announcement from leader Kim Jong Un that North Korea would stop nuclear tests." The finding contradicts the Trump Administration's claim that the closure was a major concession by North Korean leader Kim Jung Un, who is set to meet with him for talks with President Trump in May.
"Republicans on Wednesday will begin a push to change Senate rules in a way that would allow the faster confirmation of President Trump's nominees, after months of complaints that Democrats are dragging out the process. The Senate Rules Committee will meet in the afternoon to consider a resolution that would reduce post-cloture debate for most Executive Branch nominees from 30 hours to just 8 hours. The goal is to prevent Democrats from stretching out debate over several days."
Arizona Republican Debbie Lesko won a special election to fill the deep red seat Trent Franks retired from earlier this year. Unofficial balloting had her up 52.9% to 47.2%. This victory is a bit close for comfort, considering Donald Trump's 21-point victory there in 2016. This victory will do very little to calm GOP nerves five months before Election Day.
Apple CEO Tim Cook will meet with President Trump today, "at a time of heightened trade tensions between the U.S. and China with technology caught up in the spat. Both countries have proposed import tariffs on each others' products, but the U.S. has been tough on Chinese technology firms." China is an important market for Apple, and Cook is expected to bring up the worsening trade relationship.