Schiff, Nadler ask DOJ watchdog to investigate Barr’s comments on Atkinson
House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff of California and House Judiciary Committee head Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York sent a letter to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Monday claiming Barr “blatantly mischaracterized” former Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson’s handling of the whistleblower complaint that prompted President Trump’s impeachment inquiry.
They also sent the letter to the Justice Department’s acting director of the Office of Professional Responsibility Jeffrey Ragsdale.
“Public confidence in our system of justice depends on the integrity, fairness, and impartiality of DOJ’s leadership. It is, therefore, imperative that the Attorney General be held to the same high standard expected of all Department personnel, particularly in matters involving the President’s own interests,” the letter reads.
The Democratic lawmakers said Barr claimed in an interview earlier this month on Fox News that Atkinson ignored guidance from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel that “he is obliged to follow” and that Trump was “correct” in firing him.
“Mr. Barr’s remarks followed the President’s admission on April 4 that he fired Mr. Atkinson in retaliation for Mr. Atkinson’s handling—in accordance with the law—of the whistleblower complaint,” Schiff and Nadler wrote.
“Mr. Barr’s misleading remarks appear to have been aimed at justifying the President’s retaliatory decision to fire Mr. Atkinson.”
In the letter, the two Democrats who played prominent roles in Trump’s impeachment in the House, explained that the whistleblower complaint “detailed President Trump’s efforts to coerce Ukraine to announce a politically-motivated investigation of his rival in the 2020 presidential election.”
Trump said he fired Atkinson because “he did a terrible job. Absolutely terrible.”
“He took this terrible, inaccurate whistleblower report and he brought it to Congress,” he added.
In a statement issued after his firing, Atkinson said he was just doing his job, saying he was “legally obligated to ensure that whistleblowers had an effective and authorized means to disclose urgent matters involving classified information to the congressional intelligence committees.”
GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, also asked Trump for an explanation for firing Atkinson.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and Mark Warner of Virginia also asked Horowitz to review Barr’s comments.
Trump was impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate.
With Post Wires