Trump fired Michael Atkinson, the IG for the intelligence agencies. Now the IC is "crippled" according to analyst Samantha Vinograd.
April 4, 2020

National Security Analyst Samantha Vinograd laid into Trump for firing Inspector General Michael Atkinson yesterday. IG Atkinson was doing his job, and doing it well, when he received and acted on a whistleblower's report that Trump's administration was withholding Congressionally-approved aid in exchange for dirt on Joe Biden and his son. This report led to Trump's impeachment, and he is hell-bent on destroying anyone he can who played a role in it. Vinograd was beside herself.

VINOGRAD: Trump has decimated his own intelligence to date, and now he’s continuing that pet project at a moment when, arguably, we need more, not fewer, competent professionals on board. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment for the entire U.S. government, including the U.S. intelligence community. In the face of the novel coronavirus, resources are strained. We have less intelligence professionals able to come to work and access classified servers. And rather than trying to marshal resources at this time, President Trump has removed a competent intelligence professional from a key post.

She did not stop there. Vinograd highlighted the disadvantage at which he placed the rest of the intelligence community by not allowing a proper transition.

VINOGRAD: And it’s also the way that he did it. Let’s keep in mind, President Trump did not even allow Atkinson the mandatory 30-day transition period. He’s been placed on administrative leave. That means there has not been the ability to appropriately hand over Atkinson’s work to his successor, the acting inspector general. And the president has knowingly introduced unnecessary disruption and put more pressure on the intelligence community because his narcissism is really trumping everything else at this juncture.

The gleeful way this administration refuses to adhere to "norms" results in not only chaos, but real danger that doesn't reflect the independence and strength Trump deludes himself into imagining it does. It reflects the contempt and stupidity within him that has no apparent limit.

Victor Blackwell asked Vinograd if Atkinson's replacement would be likely to have the confidence of the intelligence community. She smirked, as she responded:

VINOGRAD: There are two questions here, Victor. One is whether Trump even names a nominee. He's abused the "acting" system throughout his tenure to really preclude his need to name a nominee, and put that nominee through Congress, so we could see that trend continue. But even if Trump names someone who has HIS confidence, the issue, as you mention, is whether that person has the confidence of the intelligence community.

The Inspector General's job, as described on the Director of National Intelligence website, is to investigate and report on fraud and mismanagement. Michael Atkinson did exactly that. He maintained his independence, and he was removed from his position because of it. At this point, we all know that the qualifications for having Trump's confidence really require bending the law or not meeting statutory obligations, if it means getting crossed wires with the president.

That last sentence. It's open knowledge. To have Trump's confidence, you must be willing to break the law. This national nightmare feels endless.

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