On Tuesday's edition of CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time," anchor Chris Cuomo pushed back on GOP lobbyist and American Conservative Union director Matt Schlapp for saying President Donald Trump has the right to fire Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson for transmitting the whistleblower complaint.
"Why would it be okay for the president to go after the inspector general for dealing with the whistleblower?" said Cuomo.
"Because he serves at the pleasure of the president. The president can get rid of them at any time," said Schlapp. "At the State Department during Obama's presidency, during the whole time Hillary was at the State Department, he didn't bother to pick an IG."
"Does the reason why you get rid of somebody, if it's because he's seen as disloyal for finding the whistleblower credible, does that color your determination?" said Cuomo.
"No, the president has the right to remove you for whatever reason you want," insisted Schlapp. "It's the reason the president may publish the transcript so every American can read what went down in that conversation. He's going to release the first conversation he had with the president of Ukraine later this week."
"But you don't believe that Mr. Atkinson mishandled the whistleblower situation, do you?" Cuomo shot back.
"I think he did what Rod Rosenstein did," replied Schlapp. "He took the easy path."
"What would have been the hard path?" asked Cuomo.
"For those who have read the transcript with a fair mind, it is not as some people made it out to be, including the whistleblower," said Schlapp.
"To be clear and fair to Mr. Atkinson, that's not his job," pointed out Cuomo. "His job is to assess the credible, see if he can corroborate it and if so give it to the DOJ. It is their job and they passed on this. Imagine this, my brother. Imagine if they hadn't and they had investigated this claim, we may not be here right now."
"The whistleblower, by all accounts of what we've been able to put together, has all been corroborated already," added Cuomo. "That's why I don't understand this push about making the whistleblower a bogeyman and making the person who assessed his credibility a bogeyman. I don't get the tactic."