At present, the Trump administration has ended up embroiled in another major scandal surrounding a whistleblower complaint reportedly covering an incident in which President Donald Trump demanded that Ukrainian authorities dig up dirt on the Bidens in exchange for military aid. The complaint was initially filed with Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who — as newly circulating details make clear — is a no-nonsense career intelligence official who’s never even seemingly donated to a single political candidate and yet, still deems the contents of the elusive whistleblower complaint credible and urgent anyway. He’s so middle-of-the-road that he’s in his present position thanks to a promotion from Trump himself — who’s now been pitched out into the metaphorical cold and is losing outs fast.
Writing for POLITICO, Natasha Bertrand and Daniel Lippman share, discussing Atkinson:
‘When he sounded the alarm to Congress earlier this month about an ‘urgent’ complaint he’d received from an intelligence official involving Trump’s communications, those who’ve worked with him were surprised — and took it seriously. “As soon as I saw that it was Atkinson, I thought, Oh shit, this is real,” said one of Atkinson’s former Justice Department colleagues. “He’s not a political guy. He’s a classic career prosecutor who’s only going to call balls and strikes.”‘
David Laufman — who worked alongside Atkinson at the Justice Department’s National Security Division — added:
‘Michael is a careful, temperate, and thoughtful lawyer. He would not have gone down this road unless he believed he was on sound legal footing.’
And yet, go down this road is exactly what Atkinson has done. He’s forwarded the initial complaint to the acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, who according to legal precedent is supposed to have forwarded the material to Congress — but the process has stopped before that point, apparently at the instruction of higher-ups in the Trump administration, a group that in this case only includes a very small number of people including Trump himself.
The House Intelligence Committee has already hosted Atkinson for private testimony, and they’re set to host Maguire for public testimony this week. Atkinson apparently did not reveal the substance of the initial whistleblower complaint at the direction of higher-ups. During his confirmation hearings, he “testified that he would consider resigning if he were prevented from pursuing an investigation that he found significant” — but we don’t seem to have reached that point yet. The House intel panel and its allies are continuing to pursue the complaint despite refusals to comply with their requests.
Trump has defended the conversation he had with the Ukrainian president as perfectly innocent. It’s a redo of a scandal that rocked his campaign surrounding the 2016 election, when he benefited from Kremlin meddling in the election and then said alongside many of his associates that there was really no issue there.
In reality, there was an issue as exemplified by the many of his associates who faced criminal charges. There’s also a major issue with a president of the United States trying to use duly approved aid as leverage against a foreign country for domestic political benefit.