James Hohmann of the Washington Post summarizes Trump’s calculated effort to destroy all oversight of his administration, including firing independent Inspectors General and refusing to send anyone to testify in hearings conducted by the House of Representatives. He believes he rules by divine right. He has all the makings of a fascist dictator. Do not be surprised if he cancels the November elections, because of this crisis. And do not be surprised if the Senate lets him. All they care about is power. The Constitution is just paper.

Hohmann writes:

The White House revealed on Monday that members of its coronavirus task force – and their deputies – are barred from testifying before Congress unless they get special permission from chief of staff Mark Meadows. The reason being given for blocking public health officials is that they’re busy trying to get control of a contagion that has now killed at least 68,172 and infected 1,175,000 Americans.

But this is just the latest in a growing list of power plays by President Trump to thwart congressional oversight and independent watchdogs from scrutinizing his administration’s response to the novel coronavirus and the way trillions of dollars are being distributed by the government.

A memo to congressional staff directors said this restriction on testimony also applies to the departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and State. It decrees that committees are limited to no more than four virus-related hearings this month. “Given these competing demands in these unprecedented times, it is reasonable to expect that agencies will have to decline invitations to hearings to remain focused on implementing of COVID-19 response, including declining to participate in multiple hearings on the same or overlapping topics,” the memo states.

Last week, the White House blocked Tony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases official, from testifying before a House committee, which is controlled by Democrats. But Fauci received permission from Meadows to testify next week before the Senate’s health committee, which is controlled by Republicans…

Speaker Nancy Pelosi mocked the White House for saying that officials on the coronavirus task force are too busy to visit the Capitol when they’ve stood by Trump’s side for hours at a time as he’s held court on matters that had little to do with the contagion during news conferences. “The fact is that we need to allocate resources,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last night on CNN. “In order to do that, any appropriations bill must begin in the House and we have to have information to act upon. So the fact that they said, ‘We’re too busy being on TV to come to the Capitol’ is, well, business as usual for them. But it is not business that will be helpful to addressing this.”

Trump has also systematically sought to sideline inspectors general. Outside groups that advocate for transparency in government say Trump’s moves make a mockery of the watchdog system created after Richard Nixon’s resignation to prevent future presidents from Watergate-style abuses of power.

After 8 p.m. on Friday, Trump moved to replace the top watchdog at HHS. She released a report last month on shortages in testing and personal protective gear at hospitals that undercut his public insistence that there were no such shortages. Now he’s nominated a permanent inspector general to take the job away from Christi Grimm, the principal deputy inspector general who has run the office in an acting capacity since January. She’s worked there in a nonpolitical capacity as a career investigator and auditor since the 1990s, uncovering waste, fraud and abuse. A White House spokesman declined to comment about the move, citing personnel decisions. But Trump lashed out at Grimm on Twitter and during a news conference after she published her findings.

Late on another Friday night, April 3, Trump fired the intelligence community’s inspector general who complied with a legal obligation to notify Congress that an urgent and credible whistleblower complaint had been filed with his office. That complaint, which drew public attention to the president’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president, led to Trump’s impeachment.

On April 7, Trump blocked the Defense Department’s then-acting inspector general from overseeing a panel of watchdogs created to oversee $2 trillion in spending related to the coronavirus response. He did this by replacing Glenn Fine, the acting Pentagon inspector general who had been selected by the other watchdogs to lead the group, with Sean O’Donnell, the inspector general at the Environmental Protection Agency. O’Donnell is now serving in both the EPA and Pentagon watchdog roles, which makes Fine ineligible to lead the pandemic response panel.

The president has also nominated one of his own lawyers at the White House, who was involved in defending Trump during the impeachment proceedings, to serve in the new role of Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery. That lawyer, Brian Miller, will appear before the Senate Banking Committee this afternoon for his confirmation hearing. In a draft of his opening statement, Miller promises to be fair and impartial. Democrats plan to press him on this. This will be the first in-person hearing related to the coronavirus response since the House and Senate mostly left town in March.