Monday, April 13 was the deadline that a bipartisan group of eight senators set for an explanation of President Donald Trump’s firing of Michael Atkinson, who served as inspector general for the United States’ intelligence community. That deadline has passed, and journalist Jenna McLaughlin — in an article published in Yahoo News — explains that as of Tuesday, April 14, the Trump White House had yet to provide that explanation.
The eight senators, who included Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, sent Trump a letter on April 8 and asked him to explain, in detail, why he decided to fire Atkinson. And the senators, McLaughlin notes, wanted to make sure it was “not for reasons unrelated to (Atkinson’s) performance” as intelligence inspector IG.
McLaughlin reports that according to a spokesperson for Grassley’s office, a follow-up request was sent to the Trump White House on April 14 — and it also went unanswered.
In addition to Grassley, the letter was signed by two other Republicans (Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah) and five Democrats (Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Sen. Jon Tester of Montana).
Trump’s detractors, from liberals and progressives to Never Trump conservatives, have been highly critical of his decision to fire Atkinson — often pointing out the role that the former intelligence inspector general played in the Ukraine scandal.
In 2019, a whistleblower in the federal government complained about Trump’s now-infamous July 25 phone conservation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — who Trump tried to pressure into investigating a political rival (former Vice President Joe Biden) and his son, Hunter Biden. Atkinson brought that complaint to the attention of Congress, and House Democrats voted to indict Trump on two articles of impeachment — asserting that Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine in exchange for political dirt on the Bidens. But Trump was later acquitted in an impeachment trial in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Trump fired Atkinson on April 3 — a firing that the president’s critics have been denouncing as an act of revenge.