by WorldTribune Staff, April 5, 2020
President Donald Trump on April 4 fought back against critics of his firing of intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson, saying he had an “absolute right” to do so and that Atkinson was a “disgrace.”
“I thought he did a terrible job — absolutely terrible,” Trump said.
The president said Atkinson had taken a “fake” Ukraine whistleblower report and fast-tracked it to Congress.
It was Atkinson who changed the rule that required whistleblowers to have firsthand knowledge of official wrongdoing before filing a complaint.
Atkinson had labeled the whistleblower complaint alleging 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.
“Not a big Trump fan — that I can tell you,” the president said of Atkinson. “That man is a disgrace to IGs… he’s a total disgrace.”
The president on Friday had announced the firing, telling Congress that he lost confidence in Atkinson, who started in the post in May 2018.
Democrats accused Trump of improperly retaliating against Atkinson.
House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff tweeted: “Trump’s dead of night decision to fire ICIG Michael Atkinson is another blatant attempt to gut the independence of the Intelligence Community and retaliate against those who dare to expose presidential wrongdoing. It puts our country and national security at even greater risk.”
Some Republicans had their reservations about Atkinson, who worked in the Department of Justice before becoming inspector general of the intelligence community.
“Intelligence Committee Republicans have repeatedly stated our concerns about the abnormalities in Atkinson’s handling of the Ukraine whistleblower complaint, and during our investigation, he failed to alleviate any of those concerns,” Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.
Columnist Monica Showalter, writing for American Thinker, noted: “Atkinson was never about accuracy; his area of expertise was manipulating rules to achieve the politicized outcomes he liked.”
Showalter added: “In any other setting, where a coup-plotter changes the rules to make things go the way he likes to make them go, or a malcontent is constantly striking at the boss, it’s a perfect reason for getting rid of the creep. Trump was absolutely right to fire Atkinson for picking and choosing how to make a motivated, politically soiled malcontent appear credible by manipulating the rules to let him do it.”