Trump Firing Intelligence IG For Doing His Job? Sure, Why Not?
Late Friday night, among a slew of other announcements, Donald Trump announced that he would be firing intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson, whose decision to tell lawmakers about a whistleblower's assertions about Trump's dealings with Ukraine resulted in Trump getting impeached. Of course, as an independent watchdog, this was literally an example of Atkinson doing his actual job, but the Trump administration has always been much bigger on loyalty than on people doing their actual jobs.
In a letter, Trump (or someone writing for him, as is more likely the case) explained that he needs to have the "fullest confidence" in his inspectors general, and that as long as he has the power to fire those he does not have "confidence" in, he will do so.
Via New York Times:
"As is the case with regard to other positions where I, as president, have the power of appointment, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general," Mr. Trump wrote. "That is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general."
The president has long discussed his desire to fire several inspectors general, and he has been talking to aides about his desire to oust Mr. Atkinson since last fall, tarring the inspector general as disloyal because he sought to share information with Congress about the president's efforts to pressure Ukraine into delivering him personal political benefits.
Mr. Atkinson's fate was sealed after the trial on impeachment charges ended, said one Trump administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a delicate matter.
Trump then stated that he would soon nominate another inspector general who "has my full confidence and who meets the appropriate qualifications."
This should not surprise you. It should also not surprise you that technically, the President is not supposed to be allowed to just straight up fire an inspector general out of nowhere. That, in fact, is pretty illegal.
Under the law that created the position of the inspector general for the intelligence community, the president can only remove that person a month after notifying the intelligence communities of his intentions and rationale.
But rather than being permitted to serve for another month, the White House told Mr. Atkinson late Friday that he was being placed on administrative leave, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. The move effectively circumvents the 30-day safeguard by sidelining him immediately.
Clearly, the only thing he has true "confidence" in is his ability to do obviously illegal shit with absolutely no consequences.
Trump also announced the hiring of five new inspectors general, believed to be people who would be a lot more loyal to him.
The only surprising thing here, really, is that Atkinson wasn't fired before. Trump has made it very clear that he considers it everyone's job to be both loyal and "nice" to him, personally — if they want to keep their jobs or get ventilators and masks so that the people in their state don't die. That means that as long as there is something he can do about it, there can be no such thing as an independent watchdog. The only way to keep one's job in the Trump administration is to be the Squeaky Fromme to his Charles Manson. There is no room for any Linda Kasabians in the mix. (Sorry, been watching a lot of documentaries lately)
This, unfortunately, is just how things are going to be until he is no longer president. Of course, given the way he's doing things, it is entirely possible that we will all be dead by then.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse