Trump calls fired watchdog in impeachment probe a 'disgrace'
President Donald Trump on April 4 criticized the ousted inspector general who handled an anonymous whistleblower's complaint that sparked his impeachment as a "disgrace" and suggested that the independent watchdog should have discussed the complaint with him.
Trump informed Congress late on April 3 night that he was firing Michael Atkinson, saying in letters to the House and Senate intelligence committees that he had lost confidence in Atkinson. Atkinson's removal is part of a larger shakeup of the intelligence community under Trump, who has always viewed intelligence professionals with skepticism.
Trump's criticism on April 4 came after Atkinson's peers had rushed to his defense. Michael Horowitz, the inspector general at the Justice Department, said Atkinson was known for his "integrity, professionalism, and commitment to the rule of law and independent oversight." He said that includes Atkinson's actions in handling the Ukraine whistleblower complaint.
Asked during the daily coronavirus briefing about firing Atkinson, Trump returned to his attacks on the Democratic-led impeachment investigation and trial and his defense that his phone call with Ukraine's president was "perfect" but had been inaccurately described in the whistleblower's account. In fact, the partial transcript later released by the president largely supported the whistleblower's account.
"I thought he did a terrible job, absolutely terrible," Trump said of Atkinson, though he did not use his name while discussing the firing.
The president added: "He took a fake report and he took it to Congress with an emergency, OK? Not a big Trump fan, that I can tell you."
Trump also questioned why Atkinson didn't speak to him about the complaint, though Atkinson's...