US President Donald Trump has fired Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community official who was instrumental in uncovering allegations that led to impeachment. Democrats insist he was "fired for telling the truth."
US President Donald Trump on Friday fired Michael Atkinson, an intelligence official who helped trigger an investigation into Trump's dealings with Ukraine that ultimately led to impeachment.
Trump informed the Senate intelligence committee of the decision in a letter, saying he planned to remove Atkinson in 30 days, adding "it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general."
"This is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general," he said.
Last year, as inspector general of the US intelligence community, Atkinson was the first official to inform the US Congress about the anonymous whistleblower complaint that alleged Trump had carried out a pressure campaign on the Ukrainian government to uncover dirt on political rival Joe Biden.
The complaint led to a House investigation on whether Trump's abused the office of president in soliciting Ukraine's interference in the 2020 election. Trump was impeached by the Democrat-led House, but the Republican led Senate acquitted him in February.
Democrats blast firing
The Democratic Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, said after the decision that "President Trump fires people for telling the truth."
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who led the impeachment inquiry, said: "the president's dead of night decision puts our country and national security at even greater risk."
Virginia Senator Mark Warner, said it was "unconscionable" that Trump would fire Atkinson in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. "We should all be deeply disturbed by ongoing attempts to politicize the nation's intelligence agencies," Warner said.
According to an unnamed US intelligence official, Tom Monheim, a "career intelligence official" will serve as acting inspector general. The position is intended to detect "fraud, waste, and mismanagement throughout the federal government."
wr/rc (AP, AFP, dpa)