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 »
"Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court has stepped back from public life. ...She last made public appearances over two years ago. This summer she turned over an office she had kept at the Supreme Court to the court’s most recently retired justice, Anthony Kennedy. Her son Jay O’Connor said in a telephone interview that his mother began to have challenges with her short-term memory. That made some public events more difficult. He says she now stays close to her Phoenix home."
"The Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times. The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined 'on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.' The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with."
"Saudi Arabia said Saturday that Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist who disappeared more than two weeks ago, had died after an argument and fistfight with unidentified men inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Eighteen men have been arrested and are being investigated in the case, Saudi state-run media reported without identifying any of them. State media also reported that Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, the deputy director of Saudi intelligence, and other high-ranking intelligence officials had been dismissed."
"Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is scrutinizing how a collection of activists and pundits intersected with WikiLeaks, the website that U.S. officials say was the primary conduit for publishing materials stolen by Russia, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Mueller’s team has recently questioned witnesses about the activities of longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone, including his contacts with WikiLeaks, and has obtained telephone records, according to the people familiar with the matter."