Michael Atkinson says Trump fired him for being impartial inspector general

The intelligence-community inspector general whom President Trump fired said Sunday that he was dismissed for doing his job.

Mr. Trump said in his firing statement and a subsequent comment Saturday that he had lost confidence in Michael Atkinson, whom he said had done a “terrible job” and was a “disgrace to IGs.”

Mr. Atkinson, who accepted a whistleblower’s complaint about Mr. Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president, said the reason for those comments were his legitimate oversight functions.

“It is hard not to think that the President’s loss of confidence in me derives from my having faithfully discharged my legal obligations as an independent and impartial Inspector General, and from my commitment to continue to do so,” Mr. Atkinson said in a two-page statement obtained Sunday night by several news outlets.

Mr. Atkinson opened his statement by saying that he was “disappointed and saddened” by Mr. Trump’s dismissal, which he said was not really “for cause.”

His letter said that he was “legally obligated to ensure that whistleblowers had an effective and authorized means to disclose urgent matters involving classified information” to Congress.

Mr. Atkinson was nominated by Mr. Trump to the post and started in May 2018.

In August 2019, Mr. Atkinson received a complaint saying the president had abused his power in soliciting help from Ukraine to undermine Democratic presidential front-runner Joseph R. Biden.

Mr. Atkinson conducted an initial investigation and found the whistleblower’s complaint was “credible” and “urgent,” a decision that started a chain of events leading to Mr. Trump’s impeachment by House Democrats in December 2019.

The president denied he had done anything wrong and called it another “witch hunt” by Democrats. The Republican-led Senate acquitted the president in a trial in February.

Dave Boyer contributed to this report.

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