President Donald Trump has fired Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community who handled the whistleblower complaint that triggered Trump’s impeachment, USA Today reports.
Trump informed the Senate intelligence committee Friday of his decision to fire Atkinson, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press.
“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,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the Intelligence Committee’s vice chairman. “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.”
Trump said in the letter that it is “vital” that he has confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general, and “that is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general.”
Atkinson was the first to inform Congress about an anonymous whistleblower complaint last year that described Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democrat Joe Biden and his son. That complaint prompted a House investigation that ultimately resulted in Trump’s impeachment.
The Senate acquitted Trump in February.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., House Intelligence Committee chairman who led the impeachment inquiry, called Trump’s action “another blatant attempt by the president to gut the independence of the Intelligence Community and retaliate against those who dare to expose presidential wrongdoing.”
“At a time when our country is dealing with a national emergency and needs people in the Intelligence Community to speak truth to power, the president’s dead of night decision puts our country and national security at even greater risk,” Schiff added.