Donald Trump said he fired the U.S. intelligence community’s inspector general because Michael Atkinson did a “terrible job” when he raised alarm over a whistle-blower’s complaint that led to the president’s impeachment.
“Not a big Trump fan, I can tell you,” Trump told reporters on Saturday, referring to the Atkinson. Trump faulted Atkinson for taking what he called a false report to Congress.
Atkinson alerted lawmakers about the complaint regarding Trump’s demand that Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. He later testified in the House impeachment inquiry.
The dismissal marks Trump’s latest act of reprisal against government officials who played a role in his impeachment. It comes amid the coronavirus pandemic that’s infected more than 297,000 Americans and caused the economy to crater. Trump earlier ousted government officials who testified in the House impeachment inquiry.
Trump notified the leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committee of his decision to dismiss Atkinson in a letter late Friday. The president wrote that “it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general. That is no longer the case with regard to his inspector general.”
Atkinson would be removed in 30 days according to the letter, addressed to Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican; Vice Chairman Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat; House Chairman Adam Schiff and ranking member Devin Nunes, both of California.
Congressional Democrats expressed fury late Friday night, with Warner pointing out that the firing occurred as the coronavirus pandemic has paralyzed much of the country.
“In the midst of a national emergency, it is unconscionable that the president is once again attempting to undermine the integrity of the intelligence community by firing yet another intelligence official simply for doing his job,” Warner said in a statement. “We should all be deeply disturbed by ongoing attempts to politicize the nation’s intelligence agencies.”
— With assistance by Erik Wasson
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