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Senators demand more details from Trump on intel watchdog firing

A bipartisan group of senators is pushing for President TrumpDonald TrumpDonald Trump Jr. calls Bruce Springsteen's dropped charges 'liberal privilege' Schiff sees challenges for intel committee, community in Trump's shadow McConnell says he'd back Trump as 2024 GOP nominee MORE to provide more details on his decision to fire the intelligence community's top watchdog, which sparked days of controversy in Washington. 
 
Eight senators sent a letter, spearheaded by Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley to vote against Tanden nomination Grassley says he'll decide this fall whether to run in 2022 Yellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation MORE (R-Iowa), to Trump on Wednesday, saying that the initial 30-day notification of the decision to fire Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson did not meet legal requirements governing the removal of an inspector general. 
 
"Congressional intent is clear that an expression of lost confidence, without further explanation, is not sufficient to fulfill the requirements of the statute. This is in large part because Congress intended that inspectors general only be removed when there is clear evidence of wrongdoing or failure to perform the duties of the office, and not for reasons unrelated to their performance, to help preserve [inspector general] independence," they wrote. 
 
They added that in an effort to "confirm that there are clear, substantial reasons" for Atkinson's removal, they are asking Trump to provide a "more detailed reasoning" for his firing by April 13. 
 
In addition to Grassley, GOP Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGrassley to vote against Tanden nomination The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Ahead: One-shot vax, easing restrictions, fiscal help Haley isolated after Trump fallout MORE (Utah) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsHouse passes sweeping protections for LGBTQ people Grassley to vote against Tanden nomination Klain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' MORE (Maine) and Democratic Sens. Gary PetersGary PetersDeJoy set for grilling by House Oversight panel Top cops deflect blame over Capitol attack Law enforcement officials lay out evidence Capitol riot was 'coordinated' attack MORE (Mich.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinProgressive support builds for expanding lower courts Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill What exactly are uber-woke educators teaching our kids? MORE (Calif.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocrats hesitant to raise taxes amid pandemic Jennifer Palmieri: 'Ever since I was aware of politics, I wanted to be in politics' Democrats in standoff over minimum wage MORE (Mont.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSchiff sees challenges for intel committee, community in Trump's shadow CIA formed task force to address suspected microwave attacks Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers MORE (Va.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenBiden nominee previews post-Trump trade agenda Labor expands jobless aid for workers who reject employers skirting COVID-19 rules Democrats hesitant to raise taxes amid pandemic MORE (Ore.) signed the letter to Trump. 
 
The president sent shockwaves through Washington on Friday night when he notified Congress, in the middle of a pandemic, that he was removing Atkinson, who handled the whistleblower complaint relating to Trump's actions toward Ukraine that sparked the House impeachment inquiry. 
 
"It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General," Trump wrote in the Friday letter. "That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General."
 
Trump then defended the decision during a press conference on Saturday, calling Atkinson a "disgrace" who did a "terrible job." Atkinson said in a statement that he believed Trump fired him for carrying out his "legal obligations." 

Trump is required to give Congress a 30-day notification before he removes an inspector general (IG). But senators said in their letter on Wednesday that a decision to place Atkinson on administrative leave "effectively removed that IG and appears to have circumvented Congress’s role."
 
In addition to the more detailed reasoning for Atkinson's removal, the lawmakers also want to know Trump's views on appointing an acting inspector general before the end of the 30-day congressional notification period. 
 
Updated: 9:35 p.m.