The White House announced Wednesday the nomination of a former aide to fervent President Trump loyalist Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) to be the new inspector general for the intelligence community.
The nominee, Allen Souza, currently works at the National Security Council and served as minority staff director when Nunes was the ranking member on the House Intel Committee. Before that, he worked as a lawyer for the committee while Nunes was spearheading its Trump-Russia investigation, which unsurprisingly found no evidence of collusion.
Trump abruptly fired the last IG, Michael Atkinson, in early April. Atkinson was instrumental in getting the whistleblower complaint about Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky into the hands of the congressional intelligence committees, kickstarting the inquiry that led to Trump’s impeachment. Trump reportedly seethed over Atkinson’s actions for months.
Democrats immediately called foul upon the late-night firing.
“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,” committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) tweeted at the time. “It puts our country and national security at even greater risk.”
Atkinson is one of many agency watchdogs Trump has deemed to be insufficiently loyal, and he went on a firing spree this spring. The White House has largely brushed off requests for more information about the firings, falling back on the excuse that a President “losing confidence” in an inspector general is enough. Presidents have historically respected the independence of inspectors general and not expected them to act like political appointees.