SPONSORED:

Senators demand more details from Trump on intel watchdog firing

A bipartisan group of senators is pushing for President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden team wants to understand Trump effort to 'hollow out government agencies' Trump's remaking of the judicial system Overnight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit 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 GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOn The Money: Biden to nominate Yellen for Treasury secretary | 'COVID cliff' looms | Democrats face pressure to back smaller stimulus Loeffler to continue to self-isolate after conflicting COVID-19 test results Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection 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 RomneyWhoopi Goldberg blasts Republicans not speaking against Trump: 'This is an attempted coup' GSA offers to brief Congress next week on presidential transition Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks MORE (Utah) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsWhoopi Goldberg blasts Republicans not speaking against Trump: 'This is an attempted coup' Democrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus Team Trump offering 'fire hose' of conspiracy Kool-Aid for supporters MORE (Maine) and Democratic Sens. Gary PetersGary PetersLeadership changes at top cyber agency raise national security concerns Hillicon Valley: Peters criticizes deficient healthcare cybersecurity investment | Apple defends delay of data privacy feature | Children groups warn about Parler Peters criticizes Trump for not taking action after cyberattacks on hospitals, COVID-19 researchers MORE (Mich.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDurbin seeks to become top-ranking Democrat on Judiciary panel Feinstein to step down as top Democrat on Judiciary Committee Bottom line MORE (Calif.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterPresident is wild card as shutdown fears grow Repealing the Affordable Care Act: Too big a price to pay for veterans Democrats vent to Schumer over Senate majority failure MORE (Mont.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTrump tells GSA that Biden transition can begin Hillicon Valley: Leadership changes at top cyber agency raise national security concerns | Snapchat launches in-app video platform 'Spotlight' | Uber, Lyft awarded federal transportation contract Democrats accuse GSA of undermining national security by not certifying Biden win MORE (Va.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Push for student loan forgiveness puts Biden in tight spot | Trump is wild card as shutdown fears grow | Mnuchin asks Fed to return 5 billion in unspent COVID emergency funds Grassley, Wyden criticize Treasury guidance concerning PPP loans The FCC is trying to govern content moderation: It doesn't have the authority 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.