CNN's Dobbs Interviews Fmr Inspector Gen Who Charges Obama Sending 'Chilling Message'

On Thursday’s Lou Dobbs Tonight on CNN, host Dobbs interviewed former inspector general Gerald Walpin to talk about his suspicious firing by President Obama after he headed an investigation that uncovered the misuse of over $800,000 in tax dollars by Obama friend Kevin Johnson, while the White House had initially given only vague reasons for his dismissal. After explaining that Walpin is "technically on administrative leave" currently, Dobbs pointed out that Senator Claire McCaskill "straightened the White House out on requirements of the law" in giving "30 days notice to Congress." Dobbs:

Of, well, of 64 total offices of inspector general, three fired. You among them, one of the most prominent. The White House did not respond to your firing in explanation beyond the perfunctory until Senator Claire McCaskill straightened the White House out on requirements of the law, which is to give 30 days notice to Congress, which had not been done at that time.

After quoting the most recent White House explanation that Walpin had been "confused, disoriented," and "unable to answer questions," Walpin charged that that statement by the White House was "given only as the third reason" for the action:

I have to tell you that explanation, supposed reason, was given only as the third reason. The only reason given to Congress when the letter was sent to Congress was that he had lost confidence in me. This letter you referred to was sent to just two Senators, not the Congress as a whole.

Walpin further charged that he believes his dismissal was meant to dissuade others from investigating such politically sensitive cases:

GERALD WALPIN All I know is that what was done was wrong, and it was done, I think, to send a chilling message to all inspectors general that they should not touch any hot topics.

LOU DOBBS: Not to touch any hot topics, by which-

WALPIN: I mean topics that may be close to somebody who is at the pinnacle of power.

Below is a complete transcript of the interview from the Thursday, June 18, Lou Dobbs Tonight on CNN:

LOU DOBBS: The Obama administration now says it fired an AmeriCorps inspector general because he was incompetent and showed up to a meeting, quote, "confused and disoriented." Gerald Walpin is technically on administrative leave. Administration critics say Walpin was removed because he uncovered waste in a federal program run by one of the President's supporters and friends. Joining me now the man at the center of this controversy and political storm, Gerald Walpin. Good to have with us.

GERALD WALPIN, FMR. AMERICORPS INSPECTOR GENERAL: Glad you invited me, thank you.

DOBBS: You were told summarily that you’re fired, is that correct?

WALPIN: I was told that I would either resign or be fired and I was given one hour to decide, and I thought my obligation to this country was that I stand up to this, which was clearly a firing having to do with the fact that I was doing my job.

DOBBS: Who was on the other end of the phone?

WALPIN: A man by the name Norman Eisen who identified himself as the special counsel to the President.

DOBBS: And the reason he gave you for wanting you out?

WALPIN: The only reason he gave is that the President – in fact, what his words were, the President appreciated my service to the country but thought it was time for me to move on.

DOBBS: Of, well, of 64 total offices of inspector general, three fired. You among them, one of the most prominent. The White House did not respond to your firing in explanation beyond the perfunctory until Senator Claire McCaskill straightened the White House out on requirements of the law, which is to give 30 days notice to Congress which had not been done at that time.

WALPIN: Before being fired.

DOBBS: Correct.

WALPIN: And it certainly was not done and still has not been done.

DOBBS: And this language, "Mr. Walton was confused, disoriented, unable to answer questions and exhibited other behavior that led the board to question his capacity to serve."

WALPIN: Well, I have to tell you that explanation, supposed reason, was given only as the third reason. The only reason given to Congress when the letter was sent to Congress was that he had lost confidence in me. This letter you referred to was sent to just two Senators, not the Congress as a whole.

DOBBS: Right.

WALPIN: And secondly, I'll let the public know – say whether I am incoherent and unable to answer questions. The fact is, I see in this as code words for somebody who's not young – I'm not, I'll be 78 – and suggesting senility. I think this is one of the greatest insults to somebody who, after a full professional life, decided to give something back to the country by serving this position when the White House called me to ask me to do it.

DOBBS: What is it you learned and the administration apparently either feared you would further disclose or simply reacted, as you suggested, as punishment for your efforts?

WALPIN: You mean what did we learn in our investigations? There were two different ones. One was that – and has never been denied – that AmeriCorps money was improperly used by now Mayor Johnson to use AmeriCorps members for his own personal purposes. The second one was in CUNY where over $80 million has been given for a program. The program that CUNY has is very good to supply teachers to underserved schools. But the AmeriCorps, money wasn't needed because they got all their teachers and signed them up before they said I will get something extra.

DOBBS: And the results of your investigations and your disclosures?

WALPIN: The corporation, which is the agency involved, rejected them without explaining why the findings and facts. And these are findings and facts made by long-time public servants in my office.

DOBBS: Well, Senator, Senator Chuck Grassley has sent the White House our list of 12 specific questions. Do you believe that there are other political motivations at work here?

WALPIN: I don't want to speculate. All I know is that what was done was wrong, and it was done, I think, to send a chilling message to all inspectors general that they should not touch any hot topics.

DOBBS: Not to touch any hot topics, by which-

WALPIN: I mean topics that may be close to somebody who is at the pinnacle of power.

DOBBS: Or embarrassing specifically to the President or his friends.

WALPIN: That's right.

DOBBS: Well, what is the next step here, in your best estimate?

WALPIN: I don't know what will happen, but I am asking obviously that the public know about it and I'd love to see Congress engage in an investigation and a hearing so that all the facts could come out.

DOBBS: Well, responding in that direction, Congressman Darryl Issa, Senator Chuck Grassley, Senator Claire McCaskill, a good friend and supporter of the President, the first to take up support of the law in your behalf, and it will be a story that I assure you we will be following here. We appreciate it.

WALPIN: Well, we appreciate, I appreciate your asking me to come in.

DOBBS: Thank you. Gerald Walpin.

Brad Wilmouth
Brad Wilmouth is a contributing blogger to NewsBusters