Friday, April 3, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He fired the inspector general for the intelligence community.

Late on this Friday night, during a national health crisis, Trump notified Congress that he was firing the inspector general for the intelligence community. It was Michael Atkinson, a Trump appointee, who made Congress aware of the existence of a valid and plausible whistleblower complaint about Trump's attempts to force the government of Ukraine to "investigate" the family of a political rival.

Atkinson's immediate superior, Joseph Maguire, at first refused to turn the whistleblower's complaint over to Congress. Atkinson, however, was legally required to notify Congress of its existence. 

Within a few months of Atkinson's refusal to cover up that complaint, Trump was impeached.

Maguire himself was fired last month because one of his subordinates told Congress—accurately—that the intelligence community had concluded that Russia was once again acting to interfere in the 2020 election on Trump's behalf. He and Maguire join a long list of people Trump has fired for either investigating or failing to stop investigations into his attempts to get foreign countries to influence American elections. These include his national security advisor John Bolton, FBI Director James Comey, Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman (and his brother), Ambassador Gordon Sondland, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, Undersecretary of Defense John Rood, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Trump, who demands personal loyalty from government employees and expects them to act as a personal defense team, did not give any actual reason for the firing. 

How is this a bad thing?

  • Purging people from government who are insufficiently loyal to the leader is what dictators do.
  • Presidents aren't above the law.