After US President Donald Trump fired the top US intelligence community watchdog Michael Atkinson, Adam Schiff, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, criticised his decision. Schiff, in a tweet, wrote that his decision of firing Atkinson puts the country and the national security at 'greater risk'. According to reports, Michael Atkinson on April 3 was served a notice by the Trump administration who asked him to vacate his office within 30 days.
Trump’s dead of night decision to fire ICIG Michael Atkinson is another blatant attempt to gut the independence of the Intelligence Community and retaliate against those who dare to expose presidential wrongdoing.— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) April 4, 2020
It puts our country and national security at even greater risk. pic.twitter.com/Pnm7chdIkl
As per international media reports, Atkinson, also in a statement, said that Trump fired him for acting impartially in the handling of the whistleblower complaint that triggered an impeachment probe of the president last year. Atkinson reportedly said that it is not hard to think that the President’s loss of confidence in him derives from him having faithfully discharged from his legal obligations as an independent and impartial Inspector General. According to reports, Atkinson was a key figure in the run-up to impeachment as he found a credible complaint from the whistleblower within the administration that who states that Trump abused his office in attempting to solicit Ukraine’s interference in the US election for his political benefit.
During a briefing on the novel coronavirus pandemic, Trump, however, called Atkinson a ‘total disgrace’. Atkinson, on the other hand, is not the first to be fired after the impeachment trials, as in February, Trump dismissed army officer, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman as he testified at the hearings in the House of Representative. Vindman had served as director of European affairs on the National Security Council and he was also on the July 25 phone call during which Trump allegedly asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden. Vindman was subpoenaed by Congress to testify at the impeachment hearings and he reportedly said that Trump's action was 'improper'.
Trump has also dismissed ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, as he had testified in his impeachment probe. According to international media reports, Sondland was a key witness during the impeachment hearing by Democrats-controlled House of Representatives. He had testified that Trump sought a quid pro quo from Ukraine, the intended recipient of nearly $400 million in military assistance that the White House has put on hold.