Senators demand more details from Trump on intel watchdog firing

A bipartisan group of senators is pushing for President TrumpDonald John TrumpTwitter CEO: 'Not true' that removing Trump campaign video was illegal, as president has claimed Biden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination Barr says he didn't give 'tactical' command to clear Lafayette protesters 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 GrassleyThe Hill's Morning Report - DC preps for massive Saturday protest; Murkowski breaks with Trump Murkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump CBO releases analysis on extending increased unemployment benefits 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 RomneyEx-Joint Chiefs chairman: Trump threat to use military on protesters 'very dangerous' Ex-Defense secretary criticizes Trump for using military for 'partisan political purposes' Biden: Probably '10 to 15 percent' of Americans 'are just not very good people' MORE (Utah) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Murkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump| Esper orders hundreds of active-duty troops outside DC sent home day after reversal | Iran releases US Navy veteran Michael White Murkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump GOP Sen. Murkowski 'struggling' with whether to vote for Trump MORE (Maine) and Democratic Sens. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersGOP votes to give chairman authority to subpoena Obama officials Democratic senator to skip vote on Obama-era subpoenas Comey, Rice, Clapper among GOP senator's targets for subpoenas amid Obama-era probe MORE (Mich.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGOP chairmen stake out turf in Obama-era probes Rosenstein takes fire from Republicans in heated testimony Democrats aim to amend Graham subpoena to include Trump allies MORE (Calif.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSenate confirms Trump's watchdog for coronavirus funds Montana barrels toward blockbuster Senate fight The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip MORE (Mont.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerVirginia senator calls for Barr to resign over order to clear protests Trump asserts his power over Republicans Expanding tax credit for businesses retaining workers gains bipartisan support MORE (Va.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenCBO releases analysis on extending increased unemployment benefits Overnight Health Care: Hydroxychloroquine ineffective in preventing COVID-19, study finds | WHO to resume hydroxychloroquine clinical research | WHO says no evidence coronavirus is mutating Bipartisan lawmakers press Trump administration to get COVID-19 aid to Medicaid providers 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.