While you slept late Friday night or decided to escape the hellscape of social media platforms and cable news networks that are deluged with depressing coronavirus reports by binge-watching Tiger King again, the president did something that has now become routine — fire someone who dared speak truth to power under his administration.
Trump told Congress in a letter that he is removing the Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who will be relinquished from his position in 30 days. Trump did not name a permanent successor.
Atkinson was the agency’s chief watchdog and was the first to alert Congress last September about the whistleblower complaint involving Trump’s communications with Ukraine’s president, which ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment.
In the letter to both the Senate and House announcing Atkinson’s removal, Trump wrote that he “no longer” has confidence in Atkinson.
“As is the case with regard to other positions where I, as President, have the power of appointment… it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general,” Trump wrote. “That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement on Friday night calling the move “shameful.”
“The shameful late-night firing of Inspector General Atkinson is 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. This latest act of reprisal against the Intelligence Community threatens to have a chilling effect against all willing to speak truth to power,” Pelosi wrote.
Democratic Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff also reacted late Friday night and accused the president of “settling [impeachment] scores.”
Adam Schiff responds the ICIG firing: He’s settling scores. We are in the middle of a pandemic and what is this President doing as thousands of people are dying? He is retaliating against people who are on his enemies list and doing it in the dead of night pic.twitter.com/vSHpYxNA6j
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) April 4, 2020
The list of Trump officials who were either pushed out of their jobs, reassigned or outright fired since their involvement with the impeachment process is rather lengthy. According to NPR, the list, to which Atkinson can now be added, includes:
- Former European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland
- Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman
- Former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovich
- Former Ukraine Ambassador William Taylor
- Former Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker
- Career foreign service officer, Jennifer Williams
- Top U.S. adviser to President Trump on Russia and Europe, Tim Morrison
Democratic Vice-Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Mark Warner also tweeted his displeasure while citing Trump’s attempts to “undermine the integrity of the intelligence community.”
“In the midst of a national emergency, it is unconscionable that the President is once again attempting to undermine the integrity of the intelligence community by firing yet another intelligence official, the ICIG, simply for doing his job,” Warner wrote.
Warner continued, “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.”