The ousted inspector general of the intelligence community says he is “disappointed and saddened” that President Donald Trump fired him, but he also encouraged other inspectors general to continue to speak out when they are aware of wrongdoing.
Trump notified Congress late Friday evening that he intended to fire Michael Atkinson, a pivotal figure in his impeachment last year, because he had lost confidence in him. On Saturday, Trump made it clear that the move had been retaliatory, telling reporters that Atkinson was a “disgrace” and had done “a terrible job” because he had provided an anonymous whistleblower complaint to Congress — a move that was required by law.
Atkinson said in the statement, sent to reporters late Sunday, that “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, and from my commitment to continue to do so.”
Atkinson was required by law to notify Congress of the complaint, which was written by an anonymous intelligence official and detailed Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democrats. The inspector general had deemed it urgent and credible, meaning that he was