Although Trump’s negative opinions about high profile whistleblowers are widely known, an August 5 Mother Jones article highlights how the current administration has been eroding whistleblower protections in the federal government and the private sector in less obvious ways. By hamstringing groups like the Merit Systems Protection Board and the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP), the administration has been making it riskier to blow the whistle. The Merit Systems Protection Board has not met fully since before February 2019 and now has a backlog of over 3,000 cases, while the OAWP has gone through several leaders. Some of them have been accused of retaliation against whistleblowers. The administration has also removed Inspectors General from their positions after their offices received complaints.
In the context of the crises the U.S. currently faces, whistleblowers are more important than ever. COVID-19 has created a greater need for oversight and whistleblower protection as the government spends trillions of dollars to keep the economy running. Whistleblowers provide an essential service by reporting when crisis relief money is used fraudulently. Instead of supporting whistleblowers who can ensure that this money goes to the right places, the Trump administration is sending a message that they don’t want to hear about it if they can help it.