President Trump is defending his decision to fire ex-intel watchdog Michael Atkinson as the ousted IG has begun defending his conduct.
Just days after his firing last week, Atkinson aired his disappointment regarding his removal from his post in an unusual statement.
“While I understand that the President can remove Inspectors General for cause, I am disappointed and saddened that President Trump has decided to remove me as the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community because I did not have his ‘fullest confidence.’”
The newly ousted intelligence official continued, defending his behavior surrounding the Ukraine “whistleblower” at the center of the allegations leading to President Trump’s impeachment, which he informed Congress of as part of his job.
Atkinson said he was “legally obligated to ensure that whistleblowers had an effective and authorized means to disclose urgent matters involving classified information to the congressional intelligence committees…”
In his only direct mention of the Ukraine probe, the axed IG gave thanks to those who supported his actions, writing, “With regard to the Ukrainian whistleblower matter, I am grateful to the many individuals who spoke publicly in support of the ICIG’s actions in administering the Whistleblower’s disclosure.”
On Saturday, Trump defended his move to fire Atkinson during a press conference, saying, “I thought he did a terrible job. Absolutely terrible.”
“He took this terrible, inaccurate whistleblower report and he brought it to Congress.”
In September, Atkinson alerted Congress to the existence of the whistleblower complaint against the commander in chief. When the former watchdog attempted to provide the complaint to Congress, the White House and Justice Department stepped in to block Congress from seeing it for multiple days. On September 25, the White House released the full transcript of the call in question, between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Ultimately, President Trump was impeached in the House and then acquitted in the Senate.
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