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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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Top South Dakota Republicans face investigation for appearing to be drunk during crucial coronavirus session

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Lawmakers in South Dakota are investigating whether or not Senate Majority Leader Kris Langer (R) was drunk during a meeting earlier this week -- a meeting that dealt with new legislation regarding the coronavirus outbreak, the Rapid City Journal reports.

Another South Dakota Republican, Brock Greenfield, is also under investigation for his conduct during the meeting.

"Langer and Greenfield oversaw the Senate proceedings from a conference room in the Capitol as lawmakers convened through teleconference to decide on a series of emergency bills for the coronavirus outbreak," the Journal reports. "As the Senate prepared to adjourn Tuesday morning, Sen. Phil Jensen, a Rapid City Republican, said he had heard Langer was intoxicated and had interrupted meetings in the House and Senate. He then attempted to move to create a disciplinary committee."

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‘Modern piracy’: Germany accuses Trump of stealing N95 masks it ordered from factory in China

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The German government is accusing the U.S. government of stealing N95 masks that it had ordered from a factory based in China that's run by American company 3M.

The Guardian reports that the German government claims that "200,000 N95 masks made by the manufacturer 3M were diverted to the U.S. as they were being transferred between planes in Thailand."

Andreas Geisel, the interior minister for Berlin state, said that the American seizure of masks that were set to go to Germany was "an act of modern piracy" and warned that continuing to take such actions could create chaos across the globe.

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Trump busted by own officials for lying about forcing GM to make desperately-needed ventilators as people die

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According to a report by USA Today, Donald Trump was not telling the truth when he told the American public that he was forcing General Motors to start manufacturing desperately needed ventilators to save the lives of Americans with severe COVID-19 symptoms.

The report notes that one week ago, the president stated that he would use the powers contained in the Defense Production Act to compel the automaker to start retooling and make the medical devices, however three sources within his own administration, speaking on the condition of anonymity said that "the government is still exploring its options and has not yet placed an order under the Defense Production Act for any of the machines."

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