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Trump has considered firing official who reported whistleblower complaint to Congress: report

President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: LeBron James's 'racist rants' are divisive, nasty North Carolina man accused of fraudulently obtaining .5M in PPP loans Biden announces picks to lead oceans, lands agencies MORE has considered firing the official who reported the whistleblower complaint to Congress, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

The president has weighed getting rid of the intelligence community's inspector general, Michael Atkinson, because he provided the whistleblower complaint to Congress that sparked the impeachment inquiry, four people familiar with the discussions told the Times.

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Trump was reportedly upset when the whistleblower report was published in September and has considered firing the inspector general more recently because he does not understand why Atkinson shared the complaint, one source told the Times.

The whistleblower report detailed how Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate unfounded corruption allegations into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden announces picks to lead oceans, lands agencies Overnight Defense: Top general concerned about Afghan forces after US troops leave | Pentagon chief: Climate crisis 'existential' threat to US national security | Army conducts review after 4 Black soldiers harassed at Virginia IHOP Feds expect to charge scores more in connection to Capitol riot MORE and his son days after withholding military aid from the country.

Trump has blasted the inspector general on Twitter and indicated that he thinks Atkinson should have to testify in the impeachment inquiry alongside the whistleblower. 

It is unknown how far the consideration of firing Atkinson went, with two sources telling the Times they thought Trump was just venting and not talking about serious consequences for the inspector general.

However, the president condemned former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyShowtime developing limited series about Jan. 6 Capitol riot Wray says FBI not systemically racist John Durham's endgame: Don't expect criminal charges MORE and former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDOJ to probe Minneapolis police Garland rescinds Trump-era memo curtailing consent decrees Biden picks vocal Trump critics to lead immigration agencies MORE before he removed them for disloyalty.

Inspector generals are supposed to remain independent from partisan beliefs and provide objective accountability.

People close to Trump told the Times that they thought removing Atkinson could damage the president going into the impeachment proceedings; his firing of Comey led to the appointment of former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE to investigate his campaign's alleged ties to Russia.

Atkinson originally reported the whistleblower complaint to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph MaguireJoseph MaguireJudge dismisses Nunes's defamation suit against Washington Post Retired Navy admiral behind bin Laden raid says he voted for Biden Congressional Democrats request FBI briefing on foreign election interference efforts MORE, who refused to turn over the document to Congress but allowed the inspector general to inform Congress that the complaint existed. Eventually, Maguire handed over the whistleblower report, which was made public at the end of September.

Lawyers for Maguire and the Justice Department maintain that because the president is not a part of the intelligence community, Atkinson had no authority to send the report, according to the Times.

Trump has grouped Atkinson in with other opponents he wants to testify in front of the House, including Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Pelosi pushes for drug pricing measure | South Africa to resume administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine | Early data indicate Pfizer, Moderna vaccines safe for pregnant women Allow a vote on the 'Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act' Female Republicans 'horrified' by male GOP lawmaker's description of Cheney: report MORE (D-Calif.), Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGroups see new openings for digging up dirt on Trump Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference MORE (D-Calif.), Biden and the whistleblower.

The Times's report comes the day before the first public impeachment hearings. The initial testimony from former and current Trump officials took place behind closed doors.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.