Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) is preparing a bipartisan letter to send to President Trump over the Friday-night firing of Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.
Grassley, a Trump ally who has an ongoing probe into the Department of Defense’s role in supporting Stefan Halper, who spied on the 2016 Trump campaign, has released several statements in the wake of Atkinson’s firing that have suggested he is unsatisfied with the administration’s logic behind the move.
“Congress has been crystal clear that written reasons must be given when IGs are removed for a lack of confidence. More details are needed from the administration,” he said in a statement released Saturday, before releasing another Tuesday which said that “the White House should empower inspectors general so they’re able to do their job.”
Trump, who also fired DoD watchdog Glenn Fine on Monday, said on Saturday that he fired Atkinson because “I thought he did a terrible job.” But reports have circulated for several months that Trump has wanted to fire Atkinson since he filed the whistleblower complaint that dealt with Trump’s conduct on a call with the Ukrainian president and touched off the president’s impeachment.
“He took this terrible, inaccurate whistleblower report and he brought it to Congress . . . they give this whistleblower a status that he doesn’t deserve. He’s a fake whistleblower” Trump added Saturday.
Grassley was instrumental in crafting the nation’s whistleblower protection statutes, and defended the whistleblower’s right to “confidentiality” in October after Trump called repeatedly for the whistleblower’s identity to be revealed.
The letter is backed by Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, according to Politico.