WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump fired Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community, who handled the whistleblower complaint that triggered Trump’s impeachment.
Trump informed the Senate Intelligence Committee on Friday of his decision to fire Atkinson, according to a letter from The Associated Press.
© Provided by Associated Press
FILE – In this file photo dated October 4, 2019, Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community, arrives at the Capitol in Washington to publicly question a whistleblower complaint that triggered President Donald Trump’s impeachment. Trump fired Atkinson. Trump informed the Senate Intelligence Committee on Friday, April 3, 2020, about his decision to fire Atkinson, according to a letter from The Associated Press. (AP photo / J. Scott Applewhite, file)
Trump said in the letter that it was “important” that he had confidence in the people who served as inspectors general, and “this is no longer the case with this inspector general.”
He did not go into any further detail, except to say that “it is extremely important that we promote the efficiency, efficiency and effectiveness of federal programs and activities” and that inspectors-general are critical to these goals.
Related Slideshow: Messages in Pictures (provided by Photo Services)
Police vehicles patrol a government-wide ban to try to contain the new corona virus in Hyderabad, Pakistan, on April 2, 2020.
Firefighters decontaminate a street on the third day of a 14-day closure to limit the spread of COVID-19 on April 2, 2020 in Abuja, Nigeria.
A woman walks through an empty street in Kiev, Ukraine on April 2, 2020, when the whole country is blocked due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Traders wash their hands with soap and water outside a retail market in Nairobi, Kenya on April 2, 2020, given concerns about the spread of coronavirus disease.
Women sit on the ground and maintain social distance while waiting to receive relief supplies from the local police during the coronavirus outbreak in Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 2, 2020.
A woman sews protective masks on April 2, 2020 in a workshop of the humanitarian organization Voluntary Relief Association in the rebel-held city of Binnish in the Syrian province of Idlib.
Army soldiers ride past a mural on April 3, 2020 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, during a government-imposed nationwide ban as a preventative measure against COVID-19.
A soldier wears a protective face mask for fear of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as he sits on the Iranian subway in Tehran on April 2, 2020.
An urban worker wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) cleans a street during a cleaning campaign as a preventive measure against the spread of the new coronavirus in Caracas, Venezuela, on April 2, 2020.
An employee disinfects the hands of a passenger at Keleti station in Budapest, Hungary on April 2, 2020.
A volunteer sprays disinfectant outside a house on the 10th day of the government blockade to fear the spread of COVID-19 on April 2, 2020 in Kathmandu, Nepal.
On April 2, 2020, technicians in the village of Topoli in Varna, Bulgaria, are producing 3D-printed face masks.
A doctor talks to an older woman before testing her for COVID-19 in Baghdad, Iraq, on April 2, 2020.
A volunteer wearing a protective suit sprays disinfectant into a bus on April 2, 2020 in Yangon, Myanmar to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
A worker disinfects a bus stop during the outbreak of coronavirus disease in Curitiba, Brazil, on April 2, 2020.
Residents walk through a disinfection tunnel on April 1, 2020 at a vegetable and fruit market in Islamabad, Pakistan.
An Australian woman sits on a bus on April 1, 2020 on the way to a rescue flight from Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Workers fill backpack sprayer with disinfectant liquid as they prepare to spray a commuter bus rank on April 1, 2020 in Harare, Zimbabwe.
A woman who left quarantine after recovering from COVID-19 poses for photos on April 1, 2020 at her home in Najaf, Iraq.
A man discusses hand washing with local community volunteers before entering the Nakasero market in Kampala, Uganda on April 1, 2020.
A view of an empty road after the government closed all national parks on April 1, 2020 to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in Tabriz, Iran.
The senators will attend a meeting to discuss the measures that must be taken to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Asunción, Paraguay, on April 1, 2020.
Women stand in a queue to gather help during the nationwide ban in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on April 1, 2020.
A soldier has his temperature checked on April 1, 2020 in Itagüí, Colombia.
A crew is working to keep the Plaza de Toros de Acho bullring on April 1, 2020 in Lima, Peru.
A Special Task Force official holds a stop sign at a checkpoint in Colombo, Sri Lanka on April 1, 2020.
A man with protective equipment spray disinfectant in Belgrade, Serbia, on April 1, 2020.
Firefighters disinfect a government building in Abuja, Nigeria on April 1, 2020.
A passenger walks on April 1, 2020 at Guarulhos International Airport in Guarulhos, Brazil.
People stand apart as they line up to receive free meals from charity activists on April 1, 2020 at Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine.
People stand in circles marked on the ground to maintain social distance as they collect free ration as a preventive measure against COVID-19 on March 31, 2020 in Quetta, Pakistan, during a government-imposed nationwide ban.
A Health Department employee measures the temperature of drivers and passengers on the highway in Nakuru, Kenya on March 31, 2020.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is attending a parliamentary meeting in Kiev (Ukraine) on March 31, 2020, in which he is wearing a protective mask as a preventive measure.
Textile workers make protective suits at a factory that is concerned about the spread of COVID-19 on March 31, 2020 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
On March 31, 2020, medical personnel will prepare for entrance tests at the Andrija Stampar Teaching Institute for Public Health in Zagreb, Croatia. A comfortable run-in test for COVID-19 was initiated on Tuesday as the number of confirmed cases continued to grow at a steady pace.
During a social media campaign titled “Clap For a Cause,” people clap their windows and roof to celebrate the eighth day of the government’s ban on concerns about the spread of solidarity for the bravery of all doctors, Nurses and police officers demonstrate COVID-19 in Kathmandu, Nepal, on March 31, 2020.
Boxes of medical masks and equipment can be seen on April 1, 2020 on board an aircraft of the Russian aerospace force at Chkalovsky Airport near Shchyolkovo, Russia, before speaking to President Donald Trump on the phone with U.S. President Donald Trump Vladimir Putin left on Monday and offered humanitarian aid to fight the coronavirus.
Medical students leave the El Vedado Polyclinic to go door to door on March 31, 2020 in Havana, Cuba for possible cases of COVID-19.
A police officer controls a car at a roadblock to restrict movement between cities during the partial blockade in Accra and Kumasi and to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Accra, Ghana, on March 31, 2020.
The bell tower will be illuminated on March 31, 2020 in Vilnius, Lithuania, as a sign of solidarity with Italy with the colors of the Italian national flag.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks on March 31, 2020 at a routine meeting of the National Headquarters to combat the corona virus in Tehran, Iran.
Zimbabwean lawyers are wearing face masks when they leave the Constitutional Court in Harare, Zimbabwe, on March 31, 2020. Zimbabwe has been blocked for 21 days to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The judges wear face masks during a trial of the militant Islamist Joko Priono, which was held on April 1, 2020 at the East Court in Jakarta, Indonesia, by video link for fear of the outbreak of the corona virus.
Community workers in protective clothing spray chemicals on March 31, 2020 while disinfecting an area in Bucharest, Romania, while the authorities are trying to limit the spread of COVID-19.
A Hindu priest covers his face with a cloth as a protective measure while watching a curfew during the Coronavirus outbreak in Colombo, Sri Lanka, March 31, 2020.
A woman wearing a face mask walks her dog across the Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic on March 31, 2020.
A vegetable seller wearing a protective face mask sells fruit and vegetables on March 31, 2020 at a market in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Boys play soccer on the first day of a 14-day ban in the central business district to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Lagos, Nigeria, on March 31, 2020.
Riot police members wearing protective face masks and gloves spray sterile water on the streets and markets after the outbreak of COVID-19 on March 31, 2020 in Basra, Iraq.
People struggle for food after Pakistan closed all markets and public places on March 30, 2020 and discouraged large gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic in Karachi, Pakistan.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who wears a face mask to protect against COVID-19, speaks during an extraordinary parliamentary session on March 30, 2020 in Kiev, Ukraine.
Two men wear protective face masks while on March 30, 2020 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, they maintain the mandatory social distance of one meter between them.
An urban worker in protective clothing sprays chemicals on March 30, 2020 to disinfect an area in Bucharest, Romania.
People are seen in front of the Khufu pyramid in the Giza pyramid complex, illuminated with texts that encourage people to stay at home, while Egypt is intensifying its efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Egypt on March 30, 2020 .
A driver is stopped at a border when authorities attempt to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Abuja, Nigeria, on March 30, 2020.
A member of the ambulance service is disinfected after a patient with COVID-19 disease was transferred to Tehran, Iran on March 30, 2020.
A customer walks past a Daily Nation newspaper heading to COVID-19 in a supermarket in Nairobi, Kenya on March 30, 2020.
A member of the Red Cross is spraying disinfectant into the Myanmar Economic Bank on March 31, 2020 to curb the spread of the virus in Yangon, Myanmar.
U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Jace Neuenschwander (L), a battalion commander of Task Force Nineveh, gives Iraqi General Mohammed Fadel, wearing a face mask and gloves, during a U.S. coalition force handover ceremony to Iraqi security forces as part of a coalition forces withdrawal at the Nineveh Presidential Palace in Iraq on March 30, 2020.
Volunteers wearing protective suits spray disinfectants on a motorized tricycle as they worry about the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Dhaka, Bangladesh on March 30, 2020.
A girl wearing a face mask sits on a swing in Prague, Czech Republic on March 30, 2020.
On March 30, 2020, cleaning staff worked at an abandoned bus station in Harare, Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has been blocked for 21 days to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Men wear face masks when walking in the abandoned Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav square in Bratislava, Slovakia on March 30, 2020.
After a blockade in Kathmandu, Nepal, on March 30, 2020, Nepalese day laborers prepare to drive a mini truck to their respective villages.
On March 30, 2020, empty streets can be seen in Damascus, Syria.
In the cities of Accra and Kumasi, an abandoned road in Ghana is being implemented as a partial blockage to slow the spread of the virus on March 30, 2020.
A pedestrian bridge on the Drau is illuminated with the colors of the Italian national flag, which supports the country’s efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic on March 30, 2020 in Osijek, Croatia.
A worker sprays disinfectants on March 29, 2020 in Islamabad, Pakistan, to curb the spread of the corona virus.
Students sit in a classroom while middle and high school students return after the opening of the semester was delayed due to the COVID 19 outbreak on March 30, 2020 in Huai’an, China.
Ukrainian border guards are seen on March 29 at the central train station in Kiev, Ukraine, near the train that carries Ukrainian citizens evacuated from Russia due to the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
A city worker sprays disinfectant on the shoes of a police officer in Atulugama, Sri Lanka, on March 29, 2020, after the city was sealed off by health officials after fears that it could be a group of COVID-19 infections, after two people tested positive for the virus.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will speak to the nation on March 29, 2020 in Abuja, Nigeria, about coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
A nurse puts on her personal protective equipment (PPE) before starting intensive care unit preparation at the new COVID-19 hospital in Verduno, near Alba, Italy, on March 29, 2020.
Volunteers are spraying disinfectant on the tuk-tuk vehicle in Dhaka, Bangladesh on March 29, 2020, while concerns about the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) exist.
A health official measures the body temperature of a passenger on a bus at a checkpoint in Istanbul, Turkey, on March 29, 2020.
Archbishop Alojzij Cvikl is holding a mass on March 29 in an empty church of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Maribor, Slovenia, which is broadcast live on national television.
Maj. Gen. Iraq, Mohammad Fadhel Abbas, signs documents during the handover ceremony at K1 Air Base near Kirkuk, northern Iraq, on March 29, 2020.
Yangon City and Development Committee members spray disinfectants on a sidewalk in Yangon, Myanmar on March 29, 2020 to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A health worker speaks to a man waiting to be tested for COVID-19 while a new rapid test kit to combat the spread of the virus is being introduced in Bangkok, Thailand on March 30, 2020.
A member of the traffic police in a protective suit gestures during the outbreak of the corona virus at the Mexican and U.S. border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on March 29, 2020.
An artist plays the clarinet to entertain people in their homes while he is locked nationwide in Sidon’s old town in Lebanon on March 29, 2020.
The neighbors are on March 29, 2020 in Rabat, Morocco, for a conversation during a state of health in emergency and prison terms.
Police officers are seen on Red Square in central Moscow on March 29, 2020 in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
People drive hours before the curfew on a crowded train ordered by Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Kamal Madbouly on March 26, 2020 on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt to curb the spread of COVID-19.
A mother and child stand at a distribution point in front of a stack of leaflets while waiting for their turn during a lock in Karachi, Pakistan, March 28, 2020.
Protesters maintain social distance in a protest against the actions of the governor of Rio de Janeiro, Wilson Witzel, against the COVID 19 outbreak while supporting Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on March 28, 2020 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
A Ukrainian wears a protective mask and gloves while waiting for a bus on March 28, 2020 at the Polish-Ukrainian border in Korczowa, Poland.
A fruit seller waits for customers in a market during a ban in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on March 28, 2020.
A football fan has his temperature checked when he arrives for the Belarusian Championship football match between FC Minsk and FC Dinamo Minsk in Minsk on March 28, 2020.
A worker sits on a bus to return home during a government-imposed nationwide ban on March 28, 2020 in an industrial area on the outskirts of Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson remotely leads the morning Covid-19 meeting after he tested positive for COVID-19 on March 28, 2020 at 10 Downing Street, London, England.
Chinese Ambassador Li Baorong (L) speaks to Venezuelan Health Minister Carlos Alvarado Gonzalez during the arrival of humanitarian aid from China on March 28, 2020 at Maiquetia International Airport in La Guaira, Venezuela.
President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a meeting of the Coronavirus Prevention and Control Center (COVID-19) on March 28, 2020 in Tehran, Iran.
Civil protection members wear protective suits when they spray disinfectants on March 28, 2020 in a residential area in Baghdad, Iraq.
Volunteers are preparing boxes for groceries and other basic goods to be delivered in the slums affected by the measures taken by the Kenyan government to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on March 28, 2020 on the Montessori School grounds in Nairobi, Kenya to stop.
A priest transfers a mass during the COVID-19 outbreak in Srednja Vas against Bohinju, Slovenia on March 28, 2019.
A groom and his bride pose together with their witnesses (R) in Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 28, 2020 for a selfie with protective masks after their wedding ceremony.
Medical personnel are waiting on March 28, 2020 in Bogota, Colombia for an emergency call to help people with COVID-19 symptoms.
A man enters the Badshahi Mosque to attend Friday prayer despite being blocked on March 27, 2020 in Lahore, Pakistan.
An employee wearing a protective mask makes bread in a local bakery in Donetsk, Ukraine, on March 27, 2020.
A healthcare professional checks a person’s temperature at the China-Uganda Friendship Hospital in Kampala, Uganda on March 27, 2020.
During a government-wide blockade, people buy bread from a seller on a street to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on March 27, 2020.
On March 27, 2020, members of the BCF charity wearing protective face masks distributed free food to a woman during a curfew in Kirkuk, Iraq.
The Uhuru Highway, one of Kenya’s busiest roads, is now deserted after the first night of the curfew came into effect on March 27, 2020 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Serbian military and volunteers have set up beds at the Novi Sad Fair to accommodate people with mild symptoms of COVID-19 in Serbia on March 27, 2020.
Women sit apart from each other while enjoying the sun on the Old Town Square as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues on March 27, 2020 in Prague, Czech Republic.
The police will check cars in Bucharest, Romania on March 27, 2020 and force a full-day ban.
A Nepalese police officer detects a curfew violation on March 28, 2020 in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Workers in protective suits rest while disinfecting a public bus on March 27, 2020 in Vilnius, Lithuania. All public and private events are prohibited in the country. Clubs, bars, restaurants and most shops are closed due to the spread of the virus.
As a precaution, members of the Islamic Health Society are spraying disinfectants on March 27, 2020 against the coronavirus pandemic in the southern suburb of Beirut in Lebanon.
People walk along a closed market during the closure in Lagos, Nigeria, on March 27, 2020.
The general public joins firefighters on March 27, 2020 to clean up a street market as a preventive measure against COVID-19 in Yangon, Myanmar.
Rickshaw drivers wait for passengers during a government-imposed lock in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on March 27, 2020.
A man drives a scooter past the closed El Sayeda Zainab Mosque because Muslims did not attend Friday prayers on March 27, 2020 in Cairo, Egypt.
Armenian-Syrian volunteers sew masks on March 27, 2020 in Aleppo, Syria, to distribute them among the poor to protect against the coronavirus pandemic.
A worker disinfects a vehicle as a precaution against the coronavirus in Kabul, Afghanistan, on March 27, 2020.
Atkinson was the first to inform Congress of an anonymous whistleblower complaint last year that described Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democrat Joe Biden and his son. This complaint led to an investigation into the house, which ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment.
In letters to the legislature in August and September, Atkinson said he considered the complaint “urgent” and “credible”. However, acting director of the National Intelligence Service, Joseph Maguire, said he did not think this was “urgent” and attempted to hold back the complaint from Congress.
© Provided by Associated Press
President Donald Trump listens during a briefing on the corona virus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Friday, April 3, 2020 in Washington. (AP Photo / Alex Brandon)
After a firestorm, the White House released the complaint, revealing that Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate the Bidens in a July call. The house opened an investigation and voted three months later to indict Trump. The Republican-led Senate acquitted Trump in February.
Trump said in the letter that he would later nominate a person “who has my full confidence”.
The Democrats reacted quickly to Atkinson’s removal. Senate intelligence top Democrat Virginia Sen. Mark Warner said it was “incomprehensible” that Trump Atkinson would fire in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We should all be deeply concerned about continued attempts to politicize the nation’s intelligence agencies,” Warner said.
House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Who led the investigation into the impeachment of the house, said, “The President’s nightly decision puts our country and national security at greater risk.”
Senate Democratic chairman Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Said in a statement that “President Trump fires people for telling the truth.”
Atkinson’s dismissal is part of a major shake in the intelligence community. Maguire, the former acting director of the National Intelligence Service, was also removed and replaced by a Trump loyalist, Richard Grenell. Trump has nominated Texas MP John Ratcliffe for permanent employment, but the Senate has not yet continued his nomination.
Tom Monheim, a career intelligence professional, becomes the incumbent inspector general of the intelligence community, according to an intelligence officer who was not authorized to discuss personnel changes and who spoke on condition of anonymity. Monheim is currently General Counsel of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.