Trump slams fired IG who helped spark impeachment push as ‘disgrace’
President Trump on Saturday slammed Michael Atkinson, the fired inspector general of the U.S. intelligence community, as a “disgrace,” saying Mr. Atkinson did a “terrible job” and that he had the absolute right to fire him.
“I thought he did a terrible job — absolutely terrible,” Mr. Trump said at the White House.
Mr. Trump said Mr. Atkinson took a “fake” whistleblower report and fast-tracked it to Congress.
“Not a big Trump fan — that I can tell you,” the president said. “That man is a disgrace to IGs… he’s a total disgrace.”
Mr. Trump said it was his decision to fire Mr. Atkinson and he had the “absolute right” to do so.
The president on Friday had announced the firing of Mr. Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general whose concerns about a whistleblower complaint helped pave the way for Mr. Trump’s impeachment last year.
The president told Congress that he lost confidence in Mr. Atkinson, who started in the post in May 2018.
Mr. Atkinson labeled a whistleblower complaint alleging Mr. Trump was improperly withholding aid to Ukraine “credible” and “urgent,” kick-starting a process that saw the Democrat-controlled House vote to impeach the president in December. The GOP-led Senate voted to acquit the president in February.
Democrats slammed Mr. Trump overnight, saying the president was improperly retaliating against Mr. Atkinson.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr complimented Mr. Atkinson for his professionalism.
“Like any political appointee, the Inspector General serves at the behest of the Executive,” said Mr. Burr, North Carolina Republican. “However, in order to be effective, the IG must be allowed to conduct his or her work independent of internal or external pressure.”
Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general, said Mr. Atkinson is known throughout the IG community for his integrity and professionalism and cited testimony that Mr. Atkinson had handled the Ukraine whistleblower complaint “by the book.”
“The Inspector General community will continue to conduct aggressive, independent oversight of the agencies that we oversee,” Mr. Horowitz said.