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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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WATCH LIVE: Trump holds mask-option Mount Rushmore rally and fireworks celebration

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President Donald Trump left the White House during the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday to attend an Independence Day event in South Dakota.

Trump was told not to attend but did so anyway.

“Trump coming here is a safety concern not just for my people inside and outside the reservation, but for people in the Great Plains. We have such limited resources in Black Hills, and we’re already seeing infections rising,” the Oglala Sioux president, Julian Bear Runner, told the Guardian. “It’s going to cause an uproar if he comes here. People are going to want to exercise their first amendment rights to protest and we do not want to see anyone get hurt or the lands be destroyed."

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2020 Election

Trump Jr’s girlfriend tests positive for COVID-19 in South Dakota ahead of the president’s event: report

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Yet another senior Donald Trump advisor has tested positive for COVID-19.

"Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of President Trump’s eldest son and a top fund-raising official for the Trump re-election campaign, tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday before a Fourth of July event at Mount Rushmore, a person familiar with her condition said," The New York Times reported shortly before Trump's speech began.

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Trump supporters shouted ‘go home’ at Native Americans protesting Mount Rushmore rally on their land: report

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Oglala Sioux protesters were arrested protesting against President Donald Trump's Independence Day event at Mount Rushmore on Friday.

The protesters argued that it is their land after the Ft. Laramie Treaty of 1868, which was ratified by the U.S. Senate.

The Black Hills of South Dakota, where Mount Rushmore is located, was among the lands the tribes received to bring about an end to Red Cloud's War, which is also known as the Bozeman Trail War.

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