WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Saturday defended his decision to fire Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community who exposed the Ukrainian whistle-blower complaint that led to his impeachment, calling it “shame” .
“I thought he had done a terrible, absolutely terrible job,” said Trump during a press briefing at the White House. “He took a bogus report and presented it to Congress … not a big Trump fan, I can tell you.”
“This man is a disgrace to the GIs,” said Trump of Atkinson. “It is a total shame. “
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Trump also attacked the whistleblower, who first reported Trump’s phone call with Ukraine, which was at the heart of the impeachment investigation.
“They give this whistleblower a status he doesn’t deserve, he is a fake whistleblower. And frankly, someone should sue their ass, “said Trump.
Trump informed legislators on Friday evening that he was firing Atkinson, whose insistence that Congress be informed of a whistleblower complaint regarding Trump’s interactions with Ukraine kicked off the dismissal last year.
Trump has reportedly considered removing Atkinson since November. His decision to follow up on Friday drew immediate criticism from Democrats and government watchdogs who warned that Trump’s scheme to remove officials from their posts who had cooperated in the dismissal process was worrying.
“It is my decision. I have absolute rights, “said Trump, defending Atkinson’s fire.
On Friday, Trump informed Congress that he was firing Atkinson because he no longer trusted him.
Gordon Sondland, Ambassador to the European Union, and Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Vindman, assistant to the National Security Council, were also released from their post after cooperating in the dismissal hearings.