Attorney General William Barr said President Donald Trump “did the right thing” by firing the inspector general who handled the Ukraine whistleblower’s complaint.
Barr said Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general, ignored guidance from the Justice Department on how to handle a complaint that a CIA analyst filed against Trump regarding his interactions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during an interview that aired Thursday on Fox News.
Atkinson provided the complaint to the House Intelligence Committee from September 2019, setting off a series of hearings that led to Trump’s impeachment. Democrats accused Trump of abusing his power by asking Zelensky to investigation Joe and Hunter Biden’s ties to Ukraine.
Trump, who was acquitted in the Senate, fired Atkinson on April 3.
The maneuver quickly drew rebuke from Democrats who accused Trump of retaliating against Atkinson and whistleblowers.
“Trump’s dead of night decision to fire ICIG Michael Atkinson is another blatant attempt to gut the independence of the Intelligence Community and retaliate against those who dare to expose presidential wrongdoing,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said in a statement last week. (RELATED: Bill Barr Says Evidence From Durham Probe Is ‘Troubling’)
Barr defended Trump’s decision, saying that Atkinson went beyond his jurisdiction “and tried to turn it into a commission to explore anything in the government.”
“I think the president did the right thing in removing Atkinson,” Barr told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham.
He also said that Atkinson immediately reported information to Congress “without letting the executive branch look at it and determine whether there was any problem.”
“He was told this in a letter from the Department of Justice, and he has obliged to follow the interpretation of the Department of Justice and he ignored it,” said Barr.
“I think the president was correct in firing him.”
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