Biden Forgets Obama Fired Inspector General

May 20, 2020

Former vice president Joe Biden drew a blank on Tuesday when asked about former president Barack Obama's dismissal of an inspector general from his administration.

"Early in his term, President Obama fired the AmeriCorps inspector general, Gerald Walpin, who was reportedly investigating one of his political supporters," Yahoo News's Dan Klaidman said to Biden during a virtual town hall. "In retrospect was that a mistake?"

"I don't recall that," Biden said. "But I tell you what, I don't ever remember the president deciding that somebody being investigated was inappropriate."

The presumptive Democratic nominee has had difficulty during the course of his campaign recalling details of his former administration.

Biden promised during the virtual town hall that he would refrain from firing any inspectors general. He also said he would approve congressional oversight that would check the authority of the executive branch over inspectors general.

"Inspector generals [sic] were designed to make government honest. To keep it honest," he said.

Biden's comments come after President Donald Trump fired State Department inspector general Steven Linick on Friday. His decision sparked fierce criticism from Democrats in Congress and prompted Democratic members of the House Foreign Relations committee to open an investigation.

Obama drew similar criticism when he fired Gerald Walpin, the inspector general of the Corporation for National and Community Service, less than six months into his first term in 2009. Walpin suggested his firing was politically motivated because he was investigating Obama supporter Kevin Johnson and the use of $800,000 in federal AmeriCorps money at a California school Johnson ran.

Obama endorsed Biden in April after his Democratic primary opponents had all withdrawn.

Biden continues to campaign from his home and appear in virtual town halls despite troubles with digital technology.