Donald Trump fires inspector-general Michael Atkinson, who caused the impeachment of the US president

Donald Trump fires inspector-general Michael Atkinson, who caused the impeachment of the US president

Donald Trump has dismissed the intelligence community inspector-general Michael Atkinson who managed the whistleblower case that sparked the impeachment of the US president.

On Friday night Mr Trump told the Senate Intelligence Committee of his decision to fire Mr Atkinson.

Mr Trump said in a letter that it was "vital" for him to trust those who serve as inspectors-general and that was  "no longer the case with regard to this Inspector-General".

He hasn't elaborated, except to tell it was "extremely important that we promote the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of federal programs and activities" And the inspectors-general were critical of those goals.

Mr. Atkinson was the first to inform Congress of last year's anonymous whistleblower complaint that described Mr. Trump's pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democrat Joe Biden and his son.

The complaint prompted a House investigation which ultimately led to the impeachment of Mr Trump.

In August and September letters to politicians Mr Atkinson said he believed the allegation was "urgent" and "credible."

But the acting Director of National Intelligence  at the time, Joseph Maguire, said he didn't think it met the meaning of "urgent" and tried to withhold Congress 'complaint.

The White House released the complaint after a firestorm, disclosing that Mr Trump had asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate the Bidens in a call in July.

The House launched an investigation and three months later voted to impeach Mr Trump.

In February Mr Trump was acquitted by the Republican-led Senate.

In the letter Mr Trump said he would appoint someone "who has my full confidence" to replace Mr Atkinson later.

Democrats have reacted swiftly to the expulsion of Mr Atkinson.

Virginia senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence panel, said it was "unconscionable" that Mr. Trump would fire Mr. Atkinson during the coronavirus pandemic.

"We should all be deeply disturbed by ongoing attempts to politicise the nation's intelligence agencies," Mr Warner said.

Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who headed the House impeachment investigation, said "the President's dead of night decision puts our country and national security at even greater risk".

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement "President Trump fires people for telling the truth".