On Friday, Donald Trump fired Michael Atkinson, the Intelligence Community inspector general who told Congress about whistleblower Ukraine complaint. Just two days later, Atkinson sounded the alarm on Trump and the dangers he poses to our democracy.
Atkinson claimed in a statement on Sunday that he had been let go for prioritizing doing his job over the interests of the president’s political goals.
“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 said.
“Those of us who vowed to protect a whistleblower’s right to safely be heard must, to the end, do what we promised to do, no matter how difficult and no matter the personal consequences,” he added.
NEW: Statement from Michael Atkinson, Intel Community IG who Pres Trump fired after he told Congress about whistleblower Ukraine complaint.
Atkinson says he was "legally obligated to ensure that whistleblowers had an effective and authorized means to disclose urgent matters." pic.twitter.com/HIv49kBm6H
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) April 6, 2020
On Monday, following the firing of Atkinson, Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times warning that the president’s firing of Atkinson was part of an “attack on democracy.”
“Times of crisis are when democracies are in the gravest danger of crumbling,” wrote Bookbinder. “We are seeing that play out in the world right now.”
“We’re not there yet,” continued Bookbinder. “But the president’s attempts to rid the government of those who would provide appropriate oversight and accountability for abuses and speak truth to power, to put in place loyalists who will look out for him rather than providing independent checks, and to empower relatives and disregard laws sets us on a dangerous trajectory.”
Trump was asked about the firing during one of his Coronavirus news conferences. He claimed that he fired Atkinson because he wasn’t “a big Trump fan.”
“I thought he did a terrible job,” said Trump. “Absolutely terrible. He took a whistleblower report, which turned out to be a fake report, and he brought it to Congress—with an emergency.”
“Not a big Trump fan,” the president added, “that I can tell you.”
— The Hill (@thehill) April 5, 2020
You can read Bookbinder’s entire op-ed HERE.