President Donald Trump did not mince words when asked at Saturday’s White House briefing about firing Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.
In fact, the president didn’t pull any punches when it came to long-time antagonizer Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Claif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who had a unique relationship with the whistleblower behind the Democrats’ Ukrainian-based impeachment process.
And 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden didn’t fare too well either.
Asked if Atkinson was just doing the job he was supposed to be doing, the president shot back, “I thought he did a terrible job. Absolutely terrible.”
“He took a whistleblower report, which turned out to be a fake report, it was fake, it was totally wrong, it was about my conversation with the president of Ukraine, he took a fake report and he brought it to Congress with an emergency,” Trump said.
“Not a big Trump fan, that I can tell you,” he added, speaking of the whistleblower.
Atkinson, who served at the president’s leisure, ran with the whistleblower complaint about Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president, informing Congress of alleged concerns regarding what was said on the call.
The CIA whistleblower’s complaint was not based on firsthand knowledge, there was an acknowledged indication of possible political bias, and the individual appeared to have served under then-Vice President Joe Biden
Trump shared that the White House offered the inspector general a chance to view the transcript of the phone call and he turned it down.
In noting the person who informed the whistleblower was supposed to come forward but never did, the president said “maybe Schiff was the informer, he’s a corrupt guy, a corrupt politician.”
“That man is a disgrace to IGs,” Trump said of Atkinson, after noting that in a strictly partisan vote, the Democrat-led House voted to impeach him.
It was later learned that the whistleblower had contacted Schiff’s staff on the House Intel Committee prior to filing his complaint, although the Democrat insists that he does not know who the CIA official is.
Trump then moved on to another reporter, who also asked Atkinson’s firing, which prompted the president to go back to the whistleblower.
“You know who the whistleblower is, and so do you, and so does everybody in this room, and so do I. Everybody knows,” Trump said. “But they give this whistleblower a status that he doesn’t deserve. He’s a fake whistleblower. And frankly, somebody ought to sue his ass off.”
The next question was about New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo getting ventilators from China.
“The State of New York has asked for help,” Trump explained. “I’ve given them four hospitals, four medical centers, then I gave them an additional hospital, then I gave them military people to operate the hospital.”
“We have given the governor of New York more than anybody has ever been given in a long time, I’ll just say,” he added. “I was going to say in history, but in a long time. And I think he’s happy, but I think that, because I watched what he said today, and it was fine. I wouldn’t say gracious. It wasn’t gracious. It was OK.”
The president then said California Gov. Gavin Newsom has been “gracious,” and that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio “has been very nice.”
Trump was asked later about a Biden tweet criticizing him for “failing to prepare our nation to respond” to the coronavirus outbreak, and the president’s response may be an early preview of what to expect as we get closer to November.
“He didn’t write that. That was done by a Democrat operative,” Trump said. “He doesn’t write. He’s probably not even watching right now,” Trump said of the televised daily briefing. “And if he is, he doesn’t understand what he’s watching.”
The president added, “Joe Biden didn’t write that. He wished he did but he didn’t.”
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