He Defied Trump on Ukraine Complaint. Now, a Dismissal

President Trump has fired Intelligence Community IG Michael Atkinson
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2020 6:00 AM CDT
Watchdog Who Handled Ukraine Whistleblower Complaint Fired
Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the Intelligence Community, leaves the Capitol on Oct. 4, 2019, after a closed-doors interview about the whistleblower complaint that exposed a July phone call the president had with the Ukrainian president.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

He alerted Congress to an intel official's complaint about Trump's July 25 phone call to the Ukrainian president, which jump-started the probe that led to the president's impeachment. Now, Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the Intelligence Community, is out of a job. Politico, the AP, and CNN all got their hands on a letter sent Friday by President Trump to the Senate and House intelligence committees in which Trump announced he's firing Atkinson, noting he no longer has the "fullest confidence" in the IG. "This is to advise that I am exercising my power as president to remove from office the inspector general of the intelligence community, effective 30 days from today," the letter read. Trump added he'd be nominating someone else at "a later date." In the interim, career intel official Tom Monheim will serve as the acting IG.

After Trump's infamous call to Volodymyr Zelensky, Atkinson opposed the decision by then-Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire to keep the whistleblower's complaint from Congress; Atkinson said he found the complaint "urgent" and "credible." Atkinson can't be ousted immediately and is on administrative leave for the next month, due to a mandate that 30 days' notice be given on such a dismissal. Democrats are firing back at Trump for making this move as the country is mired in the coronavirus muck. "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 simply for doing his job," Virginia Sen. Mark Warner says in a statement, per Politico. House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff calls it an act of "retribution." (More Michael Atkinson stories.)

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