Donald Trump fires Inspector-General Michael Atkinson, who sparked the US President's impeachment

Cheryl Sanders
April 4, 2020

President Trump has reportedly fired Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the US intelligence community who alerted Congress to concerns about a Trump phone call with the president of Ukraine - a matter that led to the president's impeachment past year.

On Friday night, with America consumed by the coronavirus pandemic, the president told the Senate intelligence committee of his decision to dismiss Michael Atkinson.

"It is extremely important that we promote the economy, efficiency, and the effectiveness of Federal programs and activities".

Flashback: The whistleblower complaint focused on Trump's alleged efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to pursue investigations into political rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden.

Atkinson received a complaint from a mysterious whistleblower in August 2019 regarding Trump's July 25, 2019, telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Why it matters: The move, to take effect in 30 days, comes amid a broader initiative to purge the administration of officials seen as disloyal to the president.

Trump added, "That is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general".

Ultimately Trump was voted not guilty by the Republican-controlled Senate in early February.

Other top intelligence officials also have recently left the administration, after Trump picked US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell to replace Maguire as acting director of national intelligence. The top Democrat on the Senate intelligence panel, Virginia Sen.

Under the law that created the position of the inspector general for the intelligence community, the president can only remove that person a month after notifying the intelligence communities of his intentions and rationale.

"While we can not get into the substance", said Schiff in a statement at the time, "we explored with the IG through documents and testimony the reasons why he found the whistleblower complaint to both urgent and credible".

Representative Adam Schiff, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who was the lead impeachment manager, called the "dead of night" firing in the midst of a national emergency "yet another blatant attempt by the president to gut the independence of the intelligence community and retaliate against those who dare to expose presidential wrongdoing".

Trump said in the letter that he would nominate an individual "who has my full confidence" at a later date.

Tom Monheim, a career intelligence official, will be the acting intelligence community inspector general, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Other reports by iNewsToday