News Trump fires watchdog who has processed Ukraine's complaint

Trump fires watchdog who has processed Ukraine’s complaint

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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)

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.



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)


© 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.

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