space command (copy)

President Donald Trump watches with Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary Mark Esper in August when the flag for U.S. Space Command is unfurled as Trump announces the branch’s establishment.

Colorado Springs Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn has joined a pair of senior congressional Democrats in calling for the Pentagon's watchdog to investigate the role of political influence in the Trump administration's decision to uproot U.S. Space Command from Colorado Springs.

"I’m going to be insisting on making sure the inspector general’s office can do an investigation on what went into this decision," Lamborn, who serves as a ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, told The Gazette on Friday. "There were some, I think, unacceptable political pressures that were brought to bear on this basing decision. We need to uncover that."

On Tuesday, Reps. John Garamendi, D-Calif., and Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., said the former president's decision to pull the command to Huntsville, Ala., “appears to be untethered from national security and military judgment.” They requested that acting Defense Department Inspector General Sean O'Donnell "review whether and how President Trump may have influenced this decision."

The letter cites a story published last week in The Gazette, written by senior military editor Tom Roeder, that found Trump personally picked Alabama as the command’s new home after military leaders recommended it stay in Colorado Springs.

Trump's decision came after Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett traveled to the White House to tell Trump the military had chosen Colorado Springs after a new presidentially ordered process that tossed out an earlier decision to keep the command, its 1,400 airmen and thousands of civilian workers here.

Trump, officers familiar with the briefing said, instead ordered the command to head to Alabama, a state that includes six lawmakers who objected to certifying the presidential election results this month and delivered Trump a Senate win, with Republican Tommy Tuberville unseating Democrat Doug Jones. 

The move will likely kick off a congressional probe into how the decision was reached.

The decision has caused Lamborn, a Trump loyalist, to break with the administration, saying he has "never been so disappointed in my whole life."

"I believe, based on inside information, that politics must have played a role," he said the day the decision was announced. "By any standard, Colorado would come out on top of any competition."

In a letter to then President-elect Joe Biden sent Jan. 13, the day Trump announced his decision, Lamborn said the move would "damage America's national security and erode our competitive edge in space."

"As we speak, our near-peer adversaries, Russia and China, are actively working to defeat our space capabilities," Lamborn wrote, outlining Russia's recent test of a direct-ascent anti-satellite missile, its second since 2020, and China's increasing quiet on its growing space capabilities.

"In the midst of the ongoing great power competition between the U.S. and our allies against the forces of tyranny and absolutism represented by Vladimir Putin's Russia and the Chinese Communist Party, arbitrarily shuffling (U.S. Space Command) around like a political trophy would prove disastrous," he added, calling the decision "foolish and hastily made."

He called on Biden to use his authority to reverse the decision "immediately upon taking office."

On Friday, Lamborn told The Gazette that he hoped Biden could, and would, fix the decision through an executive order. If legislation is needed, perhaps an amendment through the National Defense Authorization Act would be possible, he said. If the latter is required, Lamborn said he would fight to ensure committee support and support on the floor of the House.

"I'm going to be working hard to reverse that decision," he said. "... We need to make the case and show once and for all that Colorado Springs really is where the work is being done now.

"To rip out the headquarters and put it 1,000 miles away doesn't make any sense."

The Gazette's Tom Roeder and Colorado Politics' Ernest Luning contributed to this report.

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