Trump on Ukraine Whistleblower: “Somebody Oughta Sue His Ass Off”

The president took a break from talking about the pandemic to attack officials who played a role in his impeachment.

President Donald Trump speaks at the coronavirus briefing at the White House on April 4, 2020. Tasos Katopodis/CNP via ZUMA

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During a press briefing on the latest coronavirus pandemic developments Saturday, President Donald Trump saved his most passionate comments for an entirely different topic: His decision late Friday to fire the inspector general who helped spark the president’s impeachment last year.

When Trump notified Congress late Friday night that he was firing Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community, he said only that he did not have full confidence in him. Democratic leaders in Congress immediately suspected the firing was a reprisal for Atkinson’s role in his impeachment, because he had notified Congress about the whistleblower complaint over Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. On Saturday, Trump confirmed their suspicions.

During the coronavirus the press briefing, Trump ripped into Atkinson and the whistleblower. “I thought he did a terrible job,” Trump said of Atkinson’s handling of the whistleblower complaint. “He took a fake [whistleblower] report and he brought it to Congress with an emergency, ok? Not a big Trump fan, that I can tell you.” He continued to stress that his notorious July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine was perfect, as he did throughout the impeachment hearings.

“I have the absolute right” to fire Atkinson, Trump added. Then he pivoted to attack the whistleblower, whom he said should not have been allowed to remain anonymous because he was a “fake whistleblower.”

“They give this whistleblower a status that he doesn’t deserve,” Trump complained,he’s a fake whistleblower, and frankly someone oughta sue his ass off.”

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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