President Donald Trump has the right to remove people from their jobs, but he was wrong to fire Michael Atkinson, as inspector general for the intelligence community, as he was "simply doing his job" by reporting a whistleblower's complaint about the president's call with the leader of Ukraine, Sen. Angus King said Monday.
"Basically, all he had to do in that situation was determine whether the whistleblower complaint was credible, not whether it was absolutely true or not, but whether it was credible and whether it (reflected) an urgent issue," the Maine Independent said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
Atkinson made the two findings and then sent the report, which ultimately led to Trump's impeachment, on to the Director of National Intelligence, and then it came to Congress, said King.
"That's the law," he added. "This is exactly what Mr. Atkinson did."
And to be fired for that is an "injustice to an honorable professional" who was following the oath he swore, said King.
"Secondly, the message this sends to people across the government is to don't do your job if it is going to conflict with the interests of the president," said King. "That just is absolutely the worst possible result of something like this...there isn't the slightest question that this firing was retribution and revenge for bringing forward the report that led to the president's impeachment."
King also talked about a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into stock trading by Sens. Kelly Loeffler, R-Georgia, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. and others who sold off millions of dollars in stock after attending closed hearings earlier this year about the approaching coronavirus emergency.
"On the surface, these are troubling allegations, for sure, said King. "Yes, of course, there should be an investigation, and there is one. I think that should make people feel at least that this isn't being swept under the rug."
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