‘The Inspector General Community will continue to conduct aggressive, independent oversight of the agencies that we oversee…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Contrary to left-wing claims, President Donald Trump may have been entirely justified in his firing of former Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson last Friday.
But Trump may, nonetheless, face some real fallout for the move, perceived to be part of an ongoing score-settling in the wake of House Democrats’ impeachment effort, for which he was acquitted in February.
Specifically, the move elicited a rare—if not unprecedented—rebuke from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, whose reports exposing FBI misconduct during their anti-Trump “Crossfire Hurricane” probe into Russian collusion have been largely beneficial to the president.
On Saturday, Horowitz released a statement condemning Atkinson’s dismissal, using the letterhead of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.
Horowitz not only defended his colleague as a man of “integrity, professionalism and commitment to the rule of law,” but he also seemed to suggest menacingly that Atkinson’s dismissal would lead to even greater scrutiny of the president’s future actions.
“The Inspector General Community will continue to conduct aggressive, independent oversight of the agencies that we oversee,” Horowitz said in the statement.
“This includes CIGIE’s Pandemic Response Accountability Committee and its efforts on behalf of American taxpayers, families, businesses, patients, and health care providers to ensure that over $2 trillion dollars in emergency federal spending is being used consistently with the law’s mandate.”
A Useful Weapon
Thus far, Horowitz’s revelations about FBI abuse of the FISA warrant process have been an inconvenient nuisance for House Democrats including Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler, who has blatantly avoided calling him to testify.
Horowitz’s high-profile findings include a December report that identified 27 critical errors in the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” handling and a recent audit of 29 different FISA applications in eight different FBI field offices had showed all had failed to properly submit the required documentation.
But the invocation of coronavirus oversight in Horowitz’s statement hinted at a possible leftward pivot for the nonpartisan watchdog.
Democrats are currently attempting to use Trump’s handling of the pandemic crisis as their next political bludgeon.
And House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ringleader of the Ukraine impeachment scheme, has called for a post-hoc blue-ribbon committee to investigate the early handling of the virus response, claiming it would be similar to that enacted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks that probed how the massive intelligence failure had occurred.
Trump’s handling of the health crisis has been somewhat effective in helping the U.S. to maintain a relatively low mortality rate, despite the ravages of the highly contagious virus in a few Democrat-run hot zones like New York City and New Orleans, both of which failed to adequately prepare.
As of April 7, just under 3 percent of confirmed U.S. diagnoses resulted in death, compared with a global average of 5.6 percent.
Nonetheless, leftists have predictably exploited the crisis to attempt further collateral damage on Trump’s public approval—largely without success—and to advance a number of agenda items on their radical progressive wish list.
Horowitz, as an independent integrity watchdog, could prove a useful weapon against Trump if Democrats were to turn him.
Trump, who had hired Atkinson in November 2017 to fill the post, said he no longer had the “fullest confidence” about the ICIG in his letter Friday notifying Senate Intelligence leaders of the removal.
Trump, likewise, would have the authority to dismiss Horowitz at his pleasure, but doing so could impede the ongoing criminal investigation into FBI misconduct while further alienating some of his allies within the Justice Department.
One silver lining, however, was that Horowitz’s statement pointedly focused not on the handling of the coronavirus response, but rather on the dispersal and appropriate use of emergency stimulus funds.
The $2-trillion package that was recently passed on a bipartisan basis, adding considerably to the nation’s debt, may be an equal-opportunity liability for both sides of the aisle if misappropriated.
As many U.S. taxpayers awaited a $1,200 relief check, Congressional leaders already had entered into discussions on another trillion-dollar package to follow in short succession.