Trump Fires Watchdog Who Alerted Congress to Whistleblower Complaint

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus Wednesday in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence listens. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(CN) — President Trump fired Michael Atkinson Friday night, the inspector general for the intelligence community who oversaw the whistleblower complaint that led to Trump’s impeachment.

In a letter sent to the Senate intelligence committee, the president said he is removing Atkinson from the role in 30 days.

“It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General,” he wrote. “That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General.”

The move is just the latest in a string of firings by the Trump administration in an attempt to remove officials the president feels is not loyal to him. In February, Trump fired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an Iraq war veteran on the National Security Council who testified in the impeachment trial.

He also removed Gordan Sondland, then-U.S. ambassador to the European Union, after his testimony in the trial.

Atkinson informed Congress about the whistleblower complaint last year that detailed concerns about Trump putting pressure on Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

That complaint led to the subsequent House investigation and impeachment of the president, though the Senate acquitted him in February.

House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., called the decision to fire Atkinson “yet another blatant attempt by the President to gut the independence of the Intelligence Community and retaliate against those who dare to expose presidential wrongdoing.”

“It undermines the transparency and oversight the American people expect of their government, and in its absence will undoubtedly lead to even greater corruption in the Administration,” he said in a statement.

Democratic Virginia Senator Mark Warner, vice chairman of the intelligence committee, said it is “unconscionable” that Trump is “attempting to undermine the integrity of the intelligence community.”

“The work of the intelligence community has never been about loyalty to a single individual — it’s about keeping us all safe from those who wish to do our country harm. We should all be deeply disturbed by ongoing attempts to politicize the nation’s intelligence agencies,” he wrote on Twitter.

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