Updated Apr 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Intelligence community watchdog suggests Trump fired him for doing his job

Michael Atkinson, Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, arrives at the U.S. Capitol

Michael Atkinson. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson suggested in a statement Sunday President Trump fired him for acting impartially in carrying out his duties following a whistleblower complaint.

Why it matters: Atkinson alerted Congress last September to the complaint on Trump's correspondence with Ukraine's president, triggering an inquiry that resulted in Trump's impeachment.

  • The firing is part of a broader push to purge the administration of officials deemed disloyal to the president.

What he's saying: "It is hard not to think that the President’s loss of confidence in me derives from my having faithfully discharged my legal obligations as an independent and impartial Inspector General," Atkinson said in his statement.

  • Atkinson noted he was "legally obligated" as an inspector general to ensure whistleblowers have an "effective and authorized means to disclose urgent matters involving classified information to the congressional intelligence committees, and that when they did blow the whistle in an authorized manner, their identities would be protected as a guard against reprisals."
  • "Inspectors General are able to fulfill their critical watchdog functions because, by law, they are supposed to be independent of both the Executive agencies they oversee and of Congress," he added.

The other side: Trump, who was acquitted in the Republican-controlled Senate in February, told reporters Saturday he thought Atkinson did a "terrible job," calling the whistleblower report "fake." (It was not fake.)

The big picture: Atkinson must leave his role early next month.

Go deeper: Trump's new purge

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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