On Friday, Donald Trump fired the Intelligence Inspector General Michael Atkinson, calling him a “disgrace to IGs.” Atkinson was the IG who sent the Ukraine complaint to Adam Schiff declaring it to state a matter of “Urgent Concern.” That set off months of House Star Chamber-esque hearings and then impeachment theater.
Schiff of course is beating his very thin, concave chest over the firing. And at PJM, even while acknowledging that Trump has plenary authority to fire an IG for any reason, Rick Moran takes Schiff’s side.
Trump’s legendary habit of getting rid of people who cross him isn’t illegal. But Atkinson’s supposed partisanship has never been proved, and once the whistleblower’s complaint was made, he had no option but to set the machinery in motion for the IG office to investigate the claim.
You can argue the validity of the complaint, not Atkinson’s duty under the law to investigate it.
Trump fired Atkinson because he wouldn’t drop the investigation and name the whistleblower.
To all of that, let me just say what pure horse manure. Trump was wholly justified in firing Atkinson — at a minimum. Atkinson did not do his job as an IG in good faith. He set Trump up for the Ukraine impeachment effort by Schiff and Pelosi and broke the rules himself in the process. There was no good faith by Atkinson, and we spent months ripping this nation apart — and within reach of overturning a democratic election — because of it.
Leave aside for a minute whether the Atkinson would ever have been justified to begin the investigation based on a hearsay complaint. That is debatable on the merits. What are not debatable are the facts that Atkinson did not discharge his duties to investigate the matter in good faith, nor did he transmit the matter of Urgent Concern to Adam Schiff in good faith. That is unforgivable. It would also be seditious conspiracy if it was done as part of a conspiracy with Schiff undertaken with the intent of wrongfully overturning our government.
As to the charge that he failed to investigate in good faith, Atkinson accepted hearsay about what Trump did in his July 25 phone call with the President of Ukraine. By his own admission, Atkinson made no attempt to ever review the transcript of the phone call himself — he never even requested it. Had he done so, he would have seen that the transcript of the phone did not support the charges being made against Trump. As I wrote at the time:
Folks, that is pure bullshit. The whole centerpiece of the complaint was the memorialization of the actual conversation. Without it, there was no complaint. None. For anyone charged with investigating a complaint to accept hearsay information and NOT EVEN REQUEST to see the actual evidence is simply beyond any possible reasonable explanation — it really is the equivalent of the FBI trying to sell us that it acted reasonably when it accepted a draft report from Crowdstrike as actual evidence that Russia hacked the DNC computers in July, 2016. And the explanation the IC IG gives is worthless. His was a complete abdication of due diligence. The only possible explanation that I can see for such an atrocious dereliction of duty was to get this complaint into Schiff’s hands based on the desired narrative, not the facts as determined by an investigation of the type by which the IC IG was charged with conducting by law.
Further, in order to transmit a matter to Congress as an Urgent Concern, The IG had to at least believe, in good faith, that there had been a breach of the laws of the United States. Atkinson made one up — that Trump had violated Campaign Finance laws by seeking information from a foreign source. No one has ever been charged with that, ever, because it would conflict with the First Amendment. Indeed, the proof of all that is that the Impeachment Articles raised against Trump for the Ukraine hoax contained no allegations of a breach of the laws of the U.S.
Atkinson thoroughly deserved to be fired. What he equally deserved was to be investigated for seditious conspiracy along with Adam Schiff. Unfortunately, Trump has not proven capable of reestablishing the rule of law in this country. It has been his greatest failing.
Update: At Conservative TreeHouse, they have posted Atkinson’s self-serving statement recently released, claiming to have acted with only the most pristine of motives and adding his hope that this act of Trump does not “silence” other IG’s and whistleblowers. Honestly, it is like listening to Hillary Clinton explain away her own transgressions, and just as stomach-churning. CTH also makes the point that Atkinson is implicated in the FISA scandal based on the most recent findings of IG Horowitz.
Horowitz detailed 39 examples of Michael Atkinsons’ willful violations of law and policy within 42 “accuracy review” files at the DOJ-NSD. The error rate within the DOJ-NSD files that Atkinson was responsible for was over 93%.
Hopefully, justice will someday come for Mr. Atkinson.