United States of America (USA) President, Mr. Donald Trump at the weekend announced he was firing a senior intelligence official whom he said had a central role in the complaint last August that sparked his impeachment. In a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee, amidst the “war against an invisible enemy called Coronavirus (COVID-19), Trump said he had lost confidence in Michael Atkinson, the independent inspector general of the broad US intelligence community.
Recall that it was Mr. Atkinson that reviewed and transmitted an anonymous whistle-blower’s complaint in August that alleged that the American president had sought personal political favours from Ukraine in violation of US law. The complaint became the basis for Trump’s impeachment, which saw him put through a historic trial for removal in the Senate in January. The president was charged with holding up official military aid to Ukraine in exchange for Kiev helping to smear his expected 2020 election foe, Democrat Joe Biden.
After deciding the complaint had merit, Atkinson, a 55-year-old veteran government attorney, forwarded it to the Justice Department and to Congress, setting off the impeachment investigation. Atkinson then testified in a closed hearing of the House Intelligence Committee investigating the allegations, at a time when the White House sought to prevent other administration officials from giving evidence. Ultimately Trump was voted not guilty by the Republican-controlled Senate in early February.