Barr Defends Trump’s Firing Of Intel IG, Says POTUS Wants ‘Responsible’ Watchdogs

Attorney General Bill Barr waves before addressing the Department of Justice National Opioid Summit in Washington, DC, on March 6, 2020. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
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April 10, 2020 7:57 a.m.

On Thursday night, Attorney General Bill Barr backed President Donald Trump’s decision to oust Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community, who submitted a whistleblower complaint that eventually led to Trump’s impeachment.

“I think the President did the right thing in removing Atkinson,” Barr told Fox News host Laura Ingraham during a one-on-one interview.

The attorney general accused Atkinson of trying to turn the whistleblower’s complaint about Trump’s infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky “into a commission to explore anything in the government” and “immediately report it to Congress without letting the executive branch look at it and determine whether there was any problem.”

“So I think the President was correct in firing him,” Barr said.

“And it’s the second inspector general he’s fired since the beginning of this pandemic, and of course that’s used to say ‘The President just doesn’t want a watchdog,'” Ingraham said, referring to Trump’s firing of acting Pentagon inspector general Glenn Fine.

“No, I think that’s true,” Barr replied. “I think he wants responsible watchdogs.”

An bombshell record of Trump’s call with Zelensky, which the White House was pressured into releasing once the whistleblower’s complaint became the central focus of House Democrats’ impeachment investigation in September, revealed that the President had asked Zelensky to contact Barr about opening an investigation into Joe Biden while the two leaders where discussing U.S. aid to Ukraine.

Once Barr became aware of the complaint, the Justice Department decided in early September that Trump’s call was not illegal and therefore the complaint did not need to be submitted to Congress, which would have effectively smothered the complaint had Atkinson not informed lawmakers of it directly.

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