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Politics Top U.S. watchdog vows 'aggressive' oversight of Trump administration after intel firing

18:30  04 april  2020
18:30  04 april  2020 Source:   reuters.com

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top U . S . federal watchdog vowed on Saturday to continue to conduct " aggressive " independent oversight of government agencies, after President Donald Trump fired the inspector general of the U . S . intelligence community late Friday night.

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WASHINGTON — The top U.S. federal watchdog vowed on Saturday to continue to conduct "aggressive" independent oversight of government agencies, after President Donald Trump fired the inspector general of the U.S. intelligence community late Friday night.

Michael Horowitz, chair of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE), an independent agency in the executive branch and the inspector general at the Department of Justice, said in a statement that Michael Atkinson was known for his "integrity, professionalism, and commitment to the rule of law and independent oversight."

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U . S . President Donald Trump has removed the U . S . intelligence community watchdog from office. Trump officially notified the intelligence committees of both houses of Congress on Friday that Atkinson’ s firing US leader defends his administration ’ s response to coronavirus pandemic, but

President Trump is firing the intelligence community inspector general whose insistence on telling lawmakers The two top Democrats on the intelligence oversight committees expressed vehement objections on The Trump administration nevertheless refused to send the information to lawmakers.

President Donald Trump wrote in a letter to Congress Friday night that Atkinson, who was involved in triggering an impeachment probe of the president last year, will be removed from his position in 30 days.

The firing comes as U.S. inspectors general, who are charged with independent oversight of federal agencies, were recently tasked with broad surveillance of the government's response to the coronavirus, including the historic $2.3 trillion fiscal package to mitigate its economic impact.

"The inspector general community will continue to conduct aggressive, independent oversight of the agencies that we oversee," said Horowitz.

"This includes CIGIE's Pandemic Response Accountability Committee and its efforts on behalf of American taxpayers, families, businesses, patients, and health care providers to ensure that over $2 trillion dollars in emergency federal spending is being used consistently with the law's mandate."

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Democrats have expressed concerns about how the fiscal package will be doled out through the U.S. Treasury, headed by Steven Mnuchin. "We're not here to create a slush fund for Donald Trump and his family, or a slush fund for the Treasury Department to be able to hand out to their friends," said U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

The watchdogs' role in the coronavirus oversight is to examine the decision-making process, and provide the public information about where the taxpayer dollars and other resources go.

Michael Horowitz wearing a suit and tie: Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington. © Reuters/Erin Scott Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington. Atkinson, a Trump appointee, had determined that a whistleblower's report was credible in alleging Trump abused his office in attempting to solicit Ukraine's interference in the 2020 U.S. election for his political benefit.

Trump defends decision to fire Ukraine watchdog Michael Atkinson, despite bipartisan concerns

  Trump defends decision to fire Ukraine watchdog Michael Atkinson, despite bipartisan concerns Trump notified Congress Friday that he fired the inspector general who informed Congress about a whistleblower complaint about over his Ukraine call.The president notified Congress on Friday that he fired Michael Atkinson, the inspector general who informed Congress about an anonymous whistleblower complaint that described Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democrat Joe Biden. The complaint led to Trump’s impeachment and ultimately his acquittal in the Senate.

U . S . President Donald Trump has fired the intelligence watchdog who handled the complaint that triggered his impeachment. After a firestorm, the White House released the complaint, revealing that Trump had asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July call to investigate the Bidens.

Trump fires Inspector General Michael Atkinson. President Donald Trump removed Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson -- who had told Congress about the whistleblower complaint that led to Trump ' s impeachment -- from his post, the President told Congress in a letter

Trump said Friday Atkinson no longer had his "fullest confidence."

Atkinson expressed concern that Trump potentially exposed himself to "serious national security and counter-intelligence risks" when he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his son during a July 25 phone call, according to a Justice Department legal opinion.

Trump is trying to scare the watchdog community, Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC Saturday morning.

"He’s decapitating the leadership of the intelligence community in the middle of a national crisis," he said. "It’s unconscionable, and of course it sends a message throughout the federal government and particular to other inspectors general."

After contentious, partisan hearings, the Democratic-led House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump but the Republican-led Senate acquitted him of the charges in early February.

(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; editing by Heather Timmons and Diane Craft)

Grassley, in bipartisan letter, seeks 'detailed' explanation from Trump on IG firing .
GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley and a bipartisan group of fellow senators are calling on President Trump to provide a "detailed" written explanation.In a letter to Trump, Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Mark Warner, D-Va.; Jon Tester, D-Mont.; Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; and Gary Peters, D-Mich., raised concerns over Trump’s recent firing of ICIG Michael Atkinson, who played a key role in the impeachment saga.

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