President Donald Trump on Saturday, April 4 blasted fired Inspector General Michael Atkinson for his handling of the Ukraine controversy, saying Atkinson did a terrible job.
“I thought he did a terrible job. Absolutely terrible. He took a whistleblower report, which turned out to be a fake report … and he brought it to Congress with an emergency,” President Trump told reporters at a White House briefing when asked about his decision Friday to fire the official.
Atkinson notified Congress of a whistleblower report about a telephone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, which triggered the president’s impeachment inquiry last fall and eventual Senate trial and acquittal in February 2020.
President Trump informed both the House and Senate intelligence committees Friday about his decision to fire Atkinson.
“It is extremely important that we promote the economy, efficiency, and the effectiveness of federal programs and activities. The Inspectors General have a critical role in the achievement of these goals,” the president said in a letter to Congress.
“As is the case with regard to other positions where I, as President, have the power of appointment, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General,” he added. “That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General.”
President Trump said Atkinson declined an offer from the White House to view the rough transcript of his phone call with Ukraine before notifying Congress of the complaint.
“That man is a disgrace to IGs,” the president said during the briefing. “He’s a total disgrace.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who led the impeachment inquiry, reacted furiously to the president’s decision to fire Atkinson, claiming the move puts the country “at even greater risk.”
“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,” Schiff wrote in a tweet.
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
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), slammed the president’s decision as “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.”
Former 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) accused President Trump of “using a global pandemic as cover for political revenge.”
“It’s corrupt—and it threatens our national security,” she added.
The Trump administration needs to stop using a global pandemic as cover for political revenge. It’s corrupt—and it threatens our national security. https://t.co/Jt9S2v8p9N
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 4, 2020
The president said he plans to find a replacement “who has my full confidence and who meets the appropriate qualifications.”
Until then, Tom Monheim, a senior intelligence official and currently works as general counsel of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, will conduct the duties of the office, according to Fox News.