Attorney General William Barr said in an interview that aired Thursday that President Donald Trump “did the right thing” by firing the inspector general who handled the Ukraine whistleblower’s complaint.
Speaking to Fox News, Barr said that Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general, ignored guidance from the Justice Department on how to handle a complaint that a CIA analyst filed against Trump regarding his interactions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Atkinson provided the complaint to the House Intelligence Committee last September, setting off a series of hearings that led to Trump’s impeachment. Democrats accused Trump of abusing his power by asking Zelensky to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden’s ties to Ukraine.
Trump, who was acquitted in the Senate, fired Atkinson last Friday.
The maneuver quickly drew rebuke from Democrats who accused Trump of retaliating against Atkinson and whistleblowers.
“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,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said in a statement last week.
Barr defended Trump’s decision, saying that Atkinson went beyond his jurisdiction “and tried to turn it into a commission to explore anything in the government.”
“I think the president did the right thing in removing Atkinson,” Barr told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham.
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