US intel watchdog fired by Trump says he acted appropriately

Michael Atkinson says he faithfully discharged his legal obligation as an inspector general. (AP pic)

WASHINGTON: Michael Atkinson, the outgoing top watchdog of the US Intelligence Community, on Sunday said he was fired by President Donald Trump for acting impartially in his handling of the whistleblower complaint that triggered an impeachment probe of the president last year.

“It is hard not to think that the President’s loss of confidence in me derives from my having faithfully discharged my legal obligations as an independent and impartial inspector general,” Atkinson said in a statement.

Late on Friday, the White House told Atkinson, the Intelligence Community’s inspector general, that he would be terminated from his position in 30 days.

Atkinson was a key figure in the run-up to impeachment, having found credible a complaint from a still-unnamed whistleblower within the administration that Trump abused his office in attempting to solicit Ukraine’s interference in the 2020 US election for his political benefit.

The president complained on Saturday that after receiving the complaint, Atkinson did not come and speak to him about it at the White House.

“He’s a total disgrace,” Trump said during a briefing on the novel coronavirus pandemic.