By ERIC TUCKER and MARY Claire Jalonic, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) – The deposed inspector general of the intelligence community says he is “disappointed and saddened” that President Donald Trump fired him, but he also encouraged other inspectors to let him know when they knew about the wrongdoings. Continue speaking
Trump informed Congress late Friday that he intended to fire Michael Atkinson, a decisive figure in his impeachment last year as he lost faith in him. On Saturday, Trump clarified that the move was retaliatory, with reporters saying Atkinson was a “disgrace” and had done “a terrible thing” because he had provided an anonymous whistleblower complaint to Congress – a move that the law Was required by
Atkinson said in a statement to reporters late Sunday night, “It is not difficult to think that losing the President’s trust in me faithfully discharges my legal obligations as my independent and impartial inspector general, and my commitment to do so Continue. “
Atkinson was required by law to notify a congressional complaint, which was written by an undercover officer and detailed Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democrats. The Inspector General considered it to be immediate and credible, meaning it was necessary to share it with the intelligence committees of the House and Senate. But Joseph Maguire, acting director of the then National Intelligence Department, ruled him for several weeks.
After the complaint sparked fire from media reports, it was commissioned and made public in September, and a congressional investigation into the case led to Trump’s impeachment in December. Trump was acquitted by the GOP-led Senate in February.
Atkinson said in the email that he was legally “obliged to ensure that the whistleblowers had an effective and authorized means to disclose urgent cases involving classified information to congressional intelligence committees,” and that Kindle whistleblowers were protected against retaliation. Trump repeatedly called for the disclosure of the whistleblower’s name.
Atkinson also directed his message to other inspectors, stating that he knows they will “continue to do everything in their power” to continue to protect the whistleblowers.
“Please do not allow recent events to silence your voice,” Atkinson wrote.
Atkinson’s statement was sent to reporters by email on Sunday evening and a copy was given to Alan Bohm, executive director of the Inspector General’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency. Boehm confirmed the authenticity of the letter in a follow-up email exchange with The Associated Press.
On Saturday, Trump questioned why Atkinson did not talk to him about the complaint, although the role of inspector general is to provide independent oversight.
“Never came to see me, never requested to see me,” Trump said. He said: “That person is an insult to IG.”
The removal of Atkinson is part of a larger shakeup of the intelligence community under Trump, who has long been skeptical of intelligence officials and information. Atkinson is the seventh intelligence officer to have been fired, fired, or fired since last summer.
His ouster caught fire from Democrats and an immediate handful of Republicans.
Sen. Chuck Grassley of the Iowa Republic, who heads the finance committee, said Congress had been “crystal clear” that written reasons must be given when inspectors are removed for lack of confidence.
“More details are needed from the administration,” Grasley said.
Sen. Susan Collins, a GOP member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he did not find Trump’s argument persuasive in his Friday letter and said Atkinson was removed “not warranted.” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R.N.C. Stated that an inspector general “should be allowed to work independent of internal or external pressure.”
Still, there is little Congress can do in response, especially when lawmakers are scattered across the country and out of session due to the coronovirus epidemic.
In a letter to intelligence committees, Trump said Atkinson would be removed from office in 30 days, notifying Congress he would have to wait for the required time. He wrote that he would later designate a person “who I fully believe”.
According to two congressional officials, Atkinson has been placed on administrative leave, meaning he will not serve for 30 days. One of the officers said that Atkinson was reported to be removed only on Friday night. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because Atkinson’s administrative leave was not announced.
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