After President Donald Trump fired Intelligence Community Inspector General (IG) Michael Atkinson on Friday night, House Intelligence panel Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) accused the president of “retaliating against people that are on his enemies list,” the Washington Examiner reported Saturday.
Trump, for his part, has cited “a lack of confidence in Atkinson” as the reason for his dismissal, according to the Examiner. Atkinson was the IG who passed the infamous Ukraine whistleblower report on to Congress, the outlet noted.
Speaking on MSNBC’s The Last Word after the firing was announced, Schiff didn’t waste any time accusing Trump of “settling scores.”
“We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and what is this president doing as thousands of people are dying? He is retaliating against people that are on his enemies list and doing it in the dead of night. This is just another showing of the character or lack of character of this president,” Schiff said, according to the Examiner.
Schiff went on to allege that Trump is “decapitating the leadership of the intelligence community in the middle of a national crisis,” The Guardian reported.
“It’s unconscionable,” the Intelligence chair added, according to The Guardian. “And of course it sends a message throughout the federal government and in particular to other inspectors general that if they do their job as this professional did, and Michael Atkinson was a complete professional, they too may be fired by a vindictive president.”
Take a look at video of the exchange shared by the congressman himself:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Schiff’s right-hand woman, also didn’t pass up the opportunity to blast Trump. She said firing Atkinson was “a brazen act against a patriotic public servant who has honorably performed his duty,” The Guardian reported.
She went on: “This latest act of reprisal against the intelligence community threatens to have a chilling effect against all willing to speak truth to power.”
Of course, President Trump has the right — and the prerogative — to remove “Deep State” officials who don’t support his agenda from his administration. And it makes sense for him to do so: why would the president leave in place someone who felt the whistleblower report — an anonymous complaint based on secondhand knowledge that would not have been admissible in a typical court proceeding — was necessary to bring into the public eye?
But unfortunately for Schiff, Trump doesn’t even need a reason to fire Atkinson or any other official who serves at the pleasure of the president — and there’s nothing Democrats can do about it except complain. Or, perhaps, gin up another phony impeachment scheme that will hurt Schiff more than it does Trump.