Trump Fires Inspector General of Intelligence Community Who Handled Whistleblower Complaint That Led to Impeachment

In a letter sent to the chairman and vice-chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Friday, President Donald Trump announced he was firing the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, Michael Atkinson, effective in 30 days.

Atkinson, a Trump appointee who took the position in 2018, informed Congress of the whistleblower complaint about alleged improprieties during a telephone conversation between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in July 2019 that eventually led to impeachment proceedings against Trump.

Since being acquitted of impeachment charges, Trump has also fired former Ambassador Gordon Sondland and reassigned Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, both of whom testified against the president during the hearings.

"It is extremely important that we promote the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of Federal programs and activities," Trump wrote. "The Inspectors General have a critical role in the achievement of these goals. As is the case with regards 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."

"That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General," Trump added.

Inspectors General operate within an oversight position, including "detecting fraud, waste, and mismanagement throughout the federal government," according to the website of the Director of National Intelligence.

Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff called Atkinson's firing "another blatant attempt by the President to gut the independence of the Intelligence Community and retaliate against those who dare to expose presidential wrongdoing" in a statement Friday night.

"At a time when our country is dealing with a national emergency and needs people in the Intelligence Community to speak truth to power," Schiff continued, "the President's dead of night decision puts our country and national security at even greater risk."

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Inspector General of the Intelligence Community Michael Atkinson was fired by President Donald Trump on Friday. Win McNamee/Getty

Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner said in a statement Friday that "it is unconscionable that the President is once again attempting to undermine the integrity of the intelligence community by firing yet another an intelligence official simply for doing his job."

"We should all be deeply disturbed by ongoing attempts to politicize the nation's intelligence agencies," Warner added.

Atkinson testified behind closed doors in October 2019 before the House Intelligence Committee to ascertain Atkinson's certainty that the whistleblower's complaint was noteworthy.

"While we cannot get into the substance," said Schiff in a statement at the time, "we explored with the IG through documents and testimony the reasons why he found the whistleblower complaint to both urgent and credible."

Out of the whistleblower's complaint came information that indicated that Trump had asked Zelenskiy to announce an investigation into the business affairs of Trump's political rival, Joe Biden, and his son Hunter who served on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings while his father served as vice president in the Obama White House.

Trump repeatedly referred to the impeachment proceedings as a "hoax" and a "witch hunt." In a letter to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in December 2019, Trump called the impeachment "invalid."

"By proceeding with your invalid impeachment," Trump wrote, "you are violating your oaths of office, you are breaking your allegiance to the Constitution, and you are declaring open war on American democracy."

According to information sent to Newsweek by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Thomas Monheim will become the acting Intelligence Community Inspector General.

Retired as a Colonel from the US Air Force Reserves, Monheim is currently the General Counsel of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Previously, Monheim served as Associate Counsel to the President and Deputy General Counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.