Barr Defends Trump’s Dismissal of Intelligence Watchdog

Approval for the president’s response has sagged, though, and some Republicans, including Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have suggested that Mr. Trump hold fewer briefings. Others have suggested letting health professionals take more of a leading role in the response.

Meantime, on Thursday in his interview with Ms. Ingraham, Mr. Barr argued that Mr. Atkinson wrongfully notified Congress of the whistle-blower complaint “without letting the executive branch look at it and determine whether there was any problem.” The complaint suggested Mr. Trump may have violated campaign finance laws in a July phone call with the president of Ukraine, but a Justice Department review conducted before the complaint was revealed to the public found that Mr. Trump had not violated any such laws.

Mr. Barr also pushed back on the idea that Mr. Trump was trying to quash oversight. “He wants responsible watchdogs,” he said.

In recent days, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, asked Mr. Trump to provide a detailed, written explanation for his decision to remove Mr. Atkinson. The president has told Congress that he did so because he no longer had full confidence in Mr. Atkinson.

The senators suggested that Mr. Trump may have acted wrongfully.

“Congress intended that inspectors general only be removed when there is clear evidence of wrongdoing or failure to perform the duties of the office,” they wrote. “Lost confidence, without further explanation, is not sufficient.”

By law, the president can only remove the intelligence community inspector general a month after notifying the intelligence communities of his rationale for the decision.

In the interview, Mr. Barr also said that some of the people who were involved in the decision to investigate the Trump campaign in 2016 could face federal criminal prosecution.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/10/us/politics/barr-atkinson-trump.html

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