On Monday, writing for the Washington Examiner, conservative columnist Quin Hillyer laid into President Donald Trump for getting rid of intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson.
Hillyer pointed out that the GOP and some Democrats “rightly expressed outrage” when President Barack Obama fired Gerald Walpin, the AmeriCorps inspector general who Obama had claimed was “confused and disoriented” in meetings and took unauthorized absences from work. But “Trump has even less reason to fire Atkinson now than Obama had to fire Walpin then.”
“Inspectors general are quasi-independent watchdogs against government waste and corruption. They serve a tremendously valuable purpose and are trusted as honest arbiters of propriety,” wrote Hillyer. “Trump’s only stated reason for relieving Atkinson was that the president ‘no longer’ has ‘the fullest confidence’ in him. This was quite literally, word for word, the exact language, utterly inadequate, that Obama used in firing Walpin.”
The Atkinson firing “continues a troubling series of retaliatory measures against nonpolitical public servants, all of whom had otherwise gained good marks for professionalism, whom Trump blames for testimony or actions leading to his impeachment,” continued Hillyer. “Since the impeachment, his administration has pushed out numerous officials who either did their duty under oath or who raised alarm bells about the legality of withholding aid to Ukraine, including former National Security Council aide Alexander Vindman and his brother Yevgeny, ambassadors Gordon Sondland and William Taylor, and even the acting comptroller of the Defense Department, Elaine McCusker, whose only sin was internally raising questions about the aid’s postponement.”
“Trump’s retaliatory actions suggest the president is above the law and that anyone who questions him will be punished,” concluded Hillyer. “This is deeply dangerous to the rule of law.”
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