Donald Trump fired the intelligence community Inspector General who followed protocol when he told lawmakers about the Ukraine whistleblower complaint last year. Michael Atkinson was appointed to the position by Trump himself back in May 2018, but somewhere along the way, it’s clear Trump decided he wasn’t a complete loyalist. So as he has so many times before, Trump gave Atkinson his walking papers late on a Friday. The New York Times explains:
“Trump is ousting the intelligence community inspector general, Michael K. Atkinson, because he lost confidence in him, the president wrote in a letter to leaders of the two congressional intelligence committees. He gave no further explanation.”
“The president has long discussed his desire to fire several inspectors general, and he has been talking to aides about his desire to oust Mr. Atkinson since last fall, tarring the inspector general as disloyal because he sought to share information with Congress about the president’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into delivering him personal political benefits.”
Political commentator David Axelrod captured the sentiment of many as he wrote, “As the nation is focused on a deadly crisis, the @POTUS takes the opportunity to settle scores, firing the Inspector General who handled the Ukraine whistleblower complaint.”
Trump’s dead of night decision to fire ICIG Michael Atkinson is another blatant attempt to gut the independence of the Intelligence Community and retaliate against those who dare to expose presidential wrongdoing.
It puts our country and national security at even greater risk. pic.twitter.com/Pnm7chdIkl
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) April 4, 2020
And Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi released a statement saying:
The shameful late-night firing of Inspector General Atkinson is a brazen act against a patriotic public servant who has honorably performed his duty to protect the Constitution and our national security, as required by the law and by his oath.
“This latest act of reprisal against the Intelligence Community threatens to have a chilling effect against all willing to speak truth to power. The President must immediately cease his attacks on those who sacrifice to keep America safe, particularly during this time of national emergency.”
Politico adds that Michael Horowitz, the chair of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency issued an unusual rebuke of a president:
“Inspector General Atkinson is known throughout the Inspector General community for his integrity, professionalism, and commitment to the rule of law and independent oversight. That includes his actions in handling the Ukraine whistleblower complaint, which the then Acting Director of National Intelligence stated in congressional testimony was done ‘by the book’ and consistent with the law.”
Trump says Atkinson’s removal will officially take place “30 days from today.”
The work of the intelligence community has never been about loyalty to a single individual — it’s about keeping us all safe from those who wish to do our country harm. We should all be deeply disturbed by ongoing attempts to politicize the nation’s intelligence agencies.
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) April 4, 2020
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote:
Whether it’s LTC Vindman, Captain Crozier, or Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson: President Trump fires people for telling the truth.
Captain Crozier and Inspector General Atkinson. Decent patriotic men of service doing their jobs with honor. And of course @realDonaldTrump can’t abide that.
Both fired in one week.
There is no bottom to this administration.
— Jim Himes (@jahimes) April 4, 2020
Watch more from MSNBC above.