A White House news release said Miller also served as an “independent corporate monitor” and is an expert in ethics, compliance, government contracts, internal investigations and white-collar crime. Miller also served as the inspector general for the General Services Administration, as well as holding high-ranking positions in the Department of Justice, the White House news release said.
But critics pointed out that inspectors general are typically apolitical. President George W. Bush appointed an inspector general over the bank bailouts during the 2008 financial crisis who had no strong partisan affiliations, according to Harry Sandick, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York.
“It’s antithetical to oversight to have someone with a tight connection to the White House. It seems weird to have a White House lawyer play this role,” Sandick said.
During negotiations two weeks ago over the $2 trillion law, Democrats insisted on creating several new oversight measures to scrutinize how the Trump administration was spending the taxpayer money. The creation of the new inspector general was a central part of this effort, though Trump issued a signing statement shortly after enacting the law that appeared to be an attempt to limit the watchdog’s independence.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday announced she was creating a select committee in the House to scrutinize implementation of the new law, a sign that Democrats wanted to create an extra level of oversight. Trump expressed anger at the creation of this new committee, which will be led by Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.).
Tony Fratto, who served in the White House and Treasury Department during the George W. Bush administration, praised Miller’s “terrific” work at GSA and his general experience.
But former representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who played a leadership role in Congress’s response to the 2008 financial crisis, called the pending nomination “contemptuous” and a “blatant conflict of interest.”
“He may be a nice guy, a decent guy, but the job of White House counsel is to represent the president,” Frank said.
Miller could be confirmed without any Democratic support, though, because Republicans control the Senate and a simple majority of lawmakers is needed for confirmation.