Donald Trump is “beheading the intelligence community’s leadership in the midst of a national crisis,” accused Democratic major Adam Schiff, after the president fired the inspector general of the American intelligence community on Friday night.
“It’s inconceivable,” Schiff, chair of the House’s intelligence committee, told MSNBC. “And of course he sends a message across the federal government and specifically to other general inspectors that if they do their job like this professional and Michael Atkinson was a complete professional, they too could be fired from a vindictive president.”
Atkinson, a Trump appointee, determined that an informant’s report was credible in claiming that Trump abused his office by attempting to investigate Ukraine over his political rivals.
According to a legal opinion from the Justice Department, Atkinson expressed concern that Trump could potentially expose himself to “serious national security and counter-espionage risks” when he pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate promising Democratic President Joe Biden. and his son during a phone call on July 25th.
Last Friday, Trump said in a letter to Congress that Atkinson no longer had his “utmost confidence” and would be removed from his position in 30 days.
The news came when the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic in the United States exceeded 7,000 and the White House faced constant criticism for handling the response.
“He’s recording scores,” said Trump’s Schiff. “We are in the middle of this pandemic and thousands of people are dying and taking revenge against the people who are on his list of enemies and are doing so in the middle of the night.”
In her Saturday morning statement, spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi called Atkinson’s fire “a brazen act against a patriotic civil servant who honored his duty.”
“This latest act of retaliation against the intelligence community threatens to have a chilling effect against anyone who wants to tell the truth in power,” said Pelosi. “The president must immediately cease his attacks on those who sacrifice themselves to protect America, particularly during this period of national emergency.”
Trump was indicted by the House, where Schiff directed the proceeding, but acquitted in February after a Republican Senate trial in which Schiff led a team of executives prosecuting the House case.
Schiff’s remark that Trump “beheaded” the intelligence community also took the recent departure of national intelligence director Joseph Maguire, who was controversially replaced by Trump loyalist Richard Grenell. Maguire also supported the informant’s action.
In Trump’s warm Washington atmosphere, such language is common. For example, in January, at the start of the impeachment process, CBS News reported that Republican senators had been warned that if they voted against the president, “your head will be on a pike.”
Only one Republican, Utah senator and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, voted to condemn the president and remove him from office.
On Saturday, the best federal watchdog in the United States promised to continue conducting “aggressive” independent oversight by government agencies.
Michael Horowitz, president of the Council of Inspectors General for Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) and inspector general at the Department of Justice, said in a statement that Atkinson is known for his “integrity, professionalism and commitment to the rule of law and oversight. independent. “
U.S. inspectors general in charge of independent oversight of federal agencies have recently been commissioned to oversee the government’s response to the coronavirus, including the historic $ 2.3 million package to mitigate its economic impact.
“The general inspector community will continue to carry out aggressive and independent control of the agencies we supervise,” said Horowitz.
“This includes the CIGIE Pandemic Response Responsibility Committee and its efforts on behalf of American taxpayers, families, businesses, patients and healthcare professionals to ensure that over $ 2 million in federal emergency expenses are used consistently with the mandate of the law”.
Democrats have expressed concern about how the tax package will be distributed through the United States Treasury, led by Steven Mnuchin.
“We are not here to create a granite fund for Donald Trump and his family, or a granite fund for the treasury department to be able to distribute to their friends,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
The role of watchdogs in coronavirus surveillance is to review decision making and provide the public with information on where taxpayer dollars and other resources go.