GOP senators warn against Trump firing intelligence community official

Two Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sens. John CornynJohn CornynSenators push foreign media to disclose if they are registered as foreign agents GOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday New legislation required to secure US semiconductor leadership MORE (R-Texas) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Stagwell President Mark Penn says Trump is losing on fighting the virus; Fauci says U.S. 'going in the wrong direction' in fight against virus GOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday Senate passes extension of application deadline for PPP small-business loans MORE (R-Maine), are warning President TrumpDonald John Trump Trump responds to calls to tear down monuments with creation of 'National Garden' of statues Trump: Children are taught in school to 'hate their own country' Trump accuses those tearing down statues of wanting to 'overthrow the American Revolution' 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 WarnerSenators press IRS chief on stimulus check pitfalls Hillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats Overnight Defense: Democrats blast Trump handling of Russian bounty intel | Pentagon leaders set for House hearing July 9 | Trump moves forward with plan for Germany drawdown 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.