President Donald Trump informed Congress on Friday that he was firing the inspector general of the U.S. intelligence community who was involved in triggering a presidential impeachment investigation last year.
In a letter to key lawmakers, Trump said he was planning to remove official Michael Atkinson in 30 days. "It is important that I have complete confidence in the candidates who act as general inspectors."
"This is no longer the case with this Inspector General," he said.
A U.S. official said Thomas Monheim, a career intelligence professional, will initially serve as acting inspector general.
Atkinson, a Trump-appointed employee, had found a whistleblower's report credible when he claimed that Trump had misused his office to try to solicit Ukraine's meddling in the 2020 U.S. election to his political advantage.
Atkinson was also concerned that Trump might face "serious national security and intelligence risks" when he urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate hopeful Democratic President Joe Biden and his son during a phone call on July 25.
After controversial, partisan hearings, the democratically led House of Representatives voted to indict Trump, but the Republican-led Senate cleared him of the charges in early February.
Democrats criticized Trump for firing Atkinson, especially when the country was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"In the midst of a national emergency, it is clear that the president is trying again to undermine the integrity of the intelligence community by firing another intelligence agent just to do his job," said Democratic Senator Mark Warner, who urged the Democrats The Senate Secret Service Committee came first.
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