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‘Oh sh*t, this is real’: Watchdog at the center of the Ukraine scandal is a well-known and respected Trump appointee

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On Monday, Natasha Bertrand and Daniel Lippman penned a profile of Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general who has found himself in the center of the exploding scandal about President Donald Trump’s request for Biden dirt from the Ukraine — and the Director of National Intelligence subsequently moving to block a whistleblower on the incident from speaking to Congress.

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What makes Atkinson’s determination that the whistleblower complaint is credible particularly noteworthy, wrote Bertrand and Lippman, is that he is a Trump appointee — and that he has a rock-solid reputation as a “straight shooter.”

“When he sounded the alarm to Congress earlier this month about an ‘urgent’ complaint he’d received from an intelligence official involving Trump’s communications, those who’ve worked with him were surprised — and took it seriously,” they wrote. “‘As soon as I saw that it was Atkinson, I thought, ‘Oh shit, this is real,” said one of Atkinson’s former Justice Department colleagues. ‘He’s not a political guy. He’s a classic career prosecutor who’s only going to call balls and strikes.’

Atkinson served in the Justice Department for 16 years before being appointed Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) by Trump in late 2017. His job is to review activities and wrongdoing complaints that fall under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the umbrella organization above all spy agencies in the United States.

“There’s no evidence Atkinson is a political partisan in either direction — a search of campaign finance records, for instance, finds no evidence that he’s ever donated to a candidate,” wrote Bertrand and Lippman. “And those who know Atkinson say he wouldn’t have gone this far if he didn’t believe his actions were consistent with the law. ‘Michael is a careful, temperate, and thoughtful lawyer,’ said David Laufman, who worked with Atkinson in the Justice Department’s National Security Division. ‘He would not have gone down this road unless he believed he was on sound legal footing.'”

From the outset of his confirmation, they noted, Atkinson made clear to Congress that he took precisely this kind of scenario seriously.

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“The issue of whistleblower protection was a central focus of Atkinson’s confirmation hearing, where he pledged to establish ‘a safe program where whistleblowers do not have fear of retaliation and where they’re confident that the system will treat them fairly and impartially,'” they wrote. “He also testified that he would consider resigning if he were prevented from pursuing an investigation that he found significant or to be a potential abuse of the ODNI. But he indicated that it would be a last resort.”

In the weeks and months ahead, Atkinson’s commitment may be tested like never before.

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2020 Election

Devin Nunes is livid at report he helped Trump’s White House: ‘Who the hell is leaking this?’

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The ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee is suing Washington, DC's hometown newspaper.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) announced that he was suing The Washington Post during a Friday appearance on Fox News.

“A senior U.S. intelligence official told lawmakers last week that Russia wants to see President Trump reelected, viewing his administration as more favorable to the Kremlin’s interests, according to people who were briefed on the comments,” The Washington Post reported Thursday. “Trump learned about Pierson’s remarks from Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), the committee’s ranking Republican and a staunch Trump ally, said one person familiar with the matter.”

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BUSTED: Trump’s new spy chief worked for foreign politician the US accused of corruption

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by Isaac Arnsdorf

President Donald Trump’s new acting intelligence director, Richard Grenell, used to do consulting work on behalf of an Eastern European oligarch who is now a fugitive and was recently barred from entering the U.S. under anti-corruption sanctions imposed last month by the State Department.

In 2016, Grenell wrote several articles defending the oligarch, a Moldovan politician named Vladimir Plahotniuc, but did not disclose that he was being paid, according to records and interviews. Grenell also did not register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which generally requires people to disclose work in the U.S. on behalf of foreign politicians.

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Rosie O’Donnell hilariously responds to attacks from ‘demented liar’ Donald Trump

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President Donald Trump lashed out at Rosie O'Donnell during a campaign rally in Las Vegas on Friday.

During his third rally in as many days, Trump alleged that O'Donnell had committed crimes.

O'Donnell, who had been friendly with Trump before he began publicly feuding with her, responded to the news on Twitter.

fuck off u demented liar #TrumpRussiaCollusion https://t.co/GJIGne4WI7

— ROSIE (@Rosie) February 21, 2020

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