Trump has fired the inspector general for the intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, for his handling of the whistleblower complaints, which led to his impeachment.
Atkinson’s sack has sparked fierce criticism from Democrats.
The president alerted the Senate intelligence committee and House of Representatives of his decision to dismiss Michael Atkinson on Friday night.
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His decision comes at a time when the Coronavirus pandemic is consuming the country.
In a letter, the president said it is “vital” he has confidence in any person serving as the inspector general. However, he said, “it is no longer the case with regards to Michael Atkinson.”
He added that he plans to appoint any person who has his full confidence.
Trump faces criticism from Democrats
Democrats were quick to condemn the action of the president. The minority leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, accused the president of firing anyone telling the truth. He described Atkinson as a man of Integrity, who has been a servant the nation for nearly two decades. He added that “Atkinson is a patriot for his courage of speaking the truth to power .”
According to the chairman of the House of intelligence committee Adam Schiff, Atkinson’s sack is another obvious move to take away the independence of the intelligence community. He added that “the president is retaliating against anyone who tries to expose his wrongdoing.”
He also said that the country is dealing with a national emergency. And times like this needs people in the intelligence community to speak truth to power. He went on to describe the decision of the president as a risk to national security.
Role of Michael Atkinson in Trumps impeachment
Michael Atkinson was the first official to inform Congress of an anonymous whistleblower. The whistleblower described a phone call where the president was trying to manipulate the president of Ukraine to lunch an investigation into Joe Biden.
In Atkinson’s letter to Congress, he said the complaint from the whistleblower wad credible and urgent. However, the Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, decided to keep the complaint away from Congress.
After substantial political pressure, the White finally let go of the complaint. It led to an investigation by the House of Representatives.
Finally, Trump was impeached on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The Republican-controlled Senate acquitted Trump in February in a trial described by many as for show. Nevertheless, Trump claims that he has been proven innocent. He described the impeachment process as a witch hunt and fired two officials who testified.
Michael Atkinson had been in the justice department for 15 years before appointed by the president in 2017. His appointment as inspector general was confirmed later in May 2018.
Last year there were reports that Trump is considering the possibility of firing Atkinson. During the impeachment, the president suggested that Atkinson should testify.
Atkinson’s sack follows Trump’s pattern of revenge against the intelligence community. In 2017 the president fired the then Director of the FBI, James Comey, for his leading role in the investigation into Trump’s contact with Russia in the presidential election.
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