The Commander in Chief on Friday notified both the Senate and House intelligence committees in a letter that he is booting intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson, effective in 30 days.
“As is the case with regard 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,” President Trump stated in the letter. “That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General.”
ICIG Michael Atkinson had received a complaint from the anonymous whistleblower about President Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last July.
In letters to lawmakers after receiving the complaint in August, Atkinson said he believed the complaint was “urgent” and “credible.” But the acting director of national intelligence at the time, Joseph Maguire, said he did not believe it met the definition of “urgent.”
During Saturday’s White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, a reporter asked about the firing of Atkinson.
“Wasn’t Michael Atkinson doing the job of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, the job that he was supposed to do when he simply took the report, the whistleblower complaint to Congress? … Wasn’t he doing the job that he was supposed to do, that American taxpayers were paying him to do? Then why did you decide to terminate him?” the reporter asked the president. Continued Below
“I thought he did a terrible job”, the Commander in Chief immediately responded. “Absolutely terrible.”
“He took a whistleblower report, which turned out to be a fake report– it was fake. It was totally wrong. It was about my conversation with the president of Ukraine. He took a fake report and he brought it to Congress with an emergency. Okay? Not a big Trump fan I can tell you,” the president explained.
“Instead of saying, and we offered this to him, no, no, we will take the conversation– where fortunately we had the transcript– if we didn’t have a transcript with the kind of deception and dishonesty that were practiced by the Democrats, I might not be standing here right now. Okay? Fortunately, we had a transcript, and it was a perfect transcript. Because even the Lt. Col. [Vindman], admitted it was correct,” he said. Continued Below
President Trump’s full remarks:
President Trump asked about his firing of the ICIG:
— ALX 🇺🇸 (@alx) April 4, 2020
“So he took this whistleblower, and I keep saying where’s the whistleblower? Right? And why was the whistleblower allowed to do this? Why was he allowed to be– you call it fraudulent or incorrect transcript,” Trump continued.
“So we offered this IG– I don’t know him, I don’t think I’ve ever met him. He never even came in to see me. How can you do that without seeing the person?” President Trump wondered. “He never came in to see me, never requested to see me. He took this terrible, inaccurate whistleblower report and he brought it to Congress. We offered to have him see my exact conversation… And then after he saw it, he must’ve said ‘Wow’. Because as I’ve said it many times and it drives you people crazy, it was a perfect conversation.” Continued Below
“And by the way, you have the whistleblower, where’s the informer? And here’s another question, remember before I gave the transcript, in other words, before I revealed the real conversation, where’s the second whistleblower? … There was gonna be a second whistleblower. But after I gave the conversation, he just went away. He miraculously went away,” he pointed out.
“Where’s the informer? … Maybe Shiff was the informer. You ever think of that? He’s a corrupt guy. He’s a corrupt politician,” Trump expressed. “So listen, I say this: where’s the informer? Remember the informer was coming forward. … I did one thing that surprised everybody. … I revealed the conversation. I got approval from Ukraine because I didn’t want to do it without their approval. And they said, ‘Absolutely. You did nothing wrong'”.
“And over that, with 196 to nothing, voted by the Republicans. … Dishonest Democrats impeached a President of the United States. That man is a disgrace to IG’s. He’s a total disgrace,” President Trump added.
Asked if he ran by his decision to dismiss Michael Atkinson, President Trump immediately replied: “That’s my decision. I have the absolute right. Even the fake news last night said, ‘He has the absolute right to do it’. But ask him: why didn’t you go and see the actual conversation? There was no rush. … He even said it was politically biased. He actually said that.”
“You know who the whistleblower is,” Trump then said, as he pointed at a reporter. “And so do you. And so does everyone in this room and so do I. Everybody knows. But they give this whistleblower status that he doesn’t deserve. He’s a fake whistleblower. And frankly, somebody ought to sue his ass off.” [Emphasis added.]