Late Friday night, President Donald Trump fired the inspector general of the intelligence community who alerted Congress to the whistleblower’s complaint, which touched off the inquiry that left the President impeached.
Trump notified the Senate and House Intelligence Communities of Michael Atkinson’s firing in a letter dated April 3. In the missive, obtained by Politico, Trump says that Atkinson will be removed in 30 days.
He wrote that he no longer has the “fullest confidence” in Atkinson, and will be putting forward a new nominee for Senate approval.
Per Politico, Atkinson was only informed of his firing on Friday and put on administrative leave.
Atkinson’s involvement with the whistleblower complaint kickstarted Trump’s impeachment process by bringing the whistleblower complaint to Congress’ attention.
Atkinson disagreed with then-acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire’s decision to seek the Justice Department’s counsel on the matter, rather than turn over the complaint directly to the intel committees.
The inspector general’s decision led to the inquiry that left Trump impeached, though ultimately acquitted by the Republican-majority Senate.
Democrats were immediately up in arms about Trump’s late-night firing.
From the chairman of the House Intelligence Community and ranking member on its Senate counterpart:
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
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, the ICIG, simply for doing his job.
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) April 4, 2020