GOP senators warn against Trump firing intelligence community official

Two Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sens. John CornynJohn CornynThis week: Negotiators hunt for coronavirus deal as August break looms Frustration builds as negotiators struggle to reach COVID-19 deal Chamber of Commerce endorses Ernst for reelection MORE (R-Texas) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsObama announces first wave of 2020 endorsements Senate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  On The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP MORE (R-Maine), are warning President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE not to fire intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.

The New York Times reported Tuesday afternoon that Trump has discussed firing Atkinson because the intelligence official found a whistleblower’s complaint about Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky credible and took action to advance it.

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Atkinson raised the profile and impact of the complaint by classifying it as “an urgent concern,” which then required the director of national intelligence to review the complaint and share it with the congressional oversight committees.

Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday said firing Atkinson in response to his actions would not be a wise move.

Asked if Trump should fire Atkinson, Cornyn said “no” and added, “I think it would be counterproductive.”

Cornyn added that he had only heard that the president was thinking about firing Atkinson from reporters and he had not received any confirmation from sources in the administration.

Collins said she had “absolutely no idea” whether Trump in fact has considered firing Atkinson but warned it would be a mistake.

“It’s obviously something that I would oppose. I have a lot of regard for the inspector general and believe that he did what he thought was right,” she said.

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerFormer Virginia House speaker Kirk Cox mulling run for governor Mini-exodus of Trump officials from Commerce to lobby on semiconductors Coronavirus recession hits Social Security, Medicare, highway funding MORE (Va.), the Democratic vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, warned that firing Atkinson would be an “abuse of power.”

“It’s hard to imagine a clearer abuse of power than firing the Inspector General simply because he did his job and followed the law, instead of covering up accusations of wrongdoing against the President,” Warner tweeted Tuesday afternoon.