Trump Fires Intelligence Community Watchdog Who Informed Congress of Whistleblower Complaint
President Donald Trump on Friday fired the intelligence community’s top watchdog whose decision to inform Congress last September of a whistleblower complaint involving the president’s conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart led to Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives.
Michael Atkinson was the first to sound the alarm about the “urgent” complaint from an intelligence official. He opposed then-director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire’s decision to withhold the complaint from Congress and instead go to the Justice Department for help determining how to proceed with it.
Trump notified the Senate and House Intelligence Committees in a letter that Atkinson’s removal would take effect a month from Friday, POLITICO reported. But a congressional source told the publication that Atkinson was immediately placed on administrative leave, which effectively blunts the law requiring 30 days notice.
Trump wrote that he “no longer” had the “fullest confidence” in Atkinson, adding that he would be submitting a replacement for consideration by the Senate “at a later date.”
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the Senate Intelligence Committee’s vice-chairman, said that Atkinson had not done anything warranting termination.
“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.
Atkinson was nominated to his post by Trump in November 2017 after having served 16 years in the Justice Department.