Senate minority leader unloaded on Trump in a remote interview, accusing him of unjustly firing outgoing Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.
Per WashingtonExaminer, a day after he was abruptly fired by President Trump, outgoing Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson spoke on the phone with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The New York Democrat said Saturday evening that he told the independent watchdog, whom defenders fear was removed to settle a score stemming from the impeachment saga, he will be remembered as a “hero.”
“I spoke to Inspector General Michael Atkinson tonight, thanked him for his service, and told him that history will remember him as a hero and those who retaliated against him as scoundrels,” Schumer tweeted.
Trump notified Congress late Friday he was exercising his power to remove Atkinson from the inspector general role, effective in 30 days because he “no longer” had the fullest confidence in him. The president said he would submit a replacement “who has my full confidence and who meets the appropriate qualifications” at a later date.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence later announced Thomas Monheim, a career intelligence professional and retired colonel from the U.S. Air Force Reserves, was taking on the role.
Trump offered more insight into his dismay with Atkinson during the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing on Saturday. “I thought he did a terrible job — absolutely terrible. He took a whistleblower report, which turned out to be a fake report. It was fake. It was totally wrong,” he said.
Last year, Atkinson determined a whistleblower complaint from a CIA analyst about a phone call Trump had with Ukraine’s president related to a CrowdStrike conspiracy theory and an effort to have Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden to be “urgent” and “credible.” The inspector general forwarded the complaint to then-acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, who did not give Atkinson permission to share it with Congress after seeking guidance from the White House and Justice Department but did allow him to notify them of its existence.
An investigation ensued, and the president was impeached by the House in December on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He was acquitted on both articles of impeachment by the Senate following a trial in February.