The coronavirus crisis seemingly put a halt to the ongoing dramatic turnover in the Trump administration, but not for long.
In a letter sent to both the House and Senate intelligence committees on Friday, President Trump announced that he was firing intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.
Loss of confidence
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) released a copy of the announcement via Twitter.
“This is to advise that I am exercising my power as President to remove from office the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, effective 30 days from today,” Trump began.
“As is the case with regard to other positions where I, as President, have the power of appointment, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General,” Trump explained, adding, “That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General.”
The president concluded by stating, “At a later date, I will be submitting to the Senate my nomination of an individual who has my full confidence and who meets the appropriate qualifications.”
Atkinson was responsible for investigating the so-called whistleblower complaint last year following Trump’s telephone call with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky and deeming it “credible.”
In his tweet, Schiff expressed outrage over the “dead of night decision,” characterizing it as “a blatant attempt to gut the independence of the Intelligence Community and retaliate against those who dare to expose presidential wrongdoing.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reacted angrily to the news as well, calling Atkinson’s removal “a brazen act against a patriotic public servant who has honorably performed his duty to protect the Constitution and our national security, as required by the law and by his oath.”
She went on to say, “This latest act of reprisal against the Intelligence Community threatens to have a chilling effect against all willing to speak truth to power.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also weighed in, calling Atkinson “a man of integrity who has served our nation for almost two decades” who was “fired for having the courage to speak truth to power.”
Fox News reported that Tom Monheim will step in to serve as acting inspector general. Monheim currently serves as general counsel of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.