On September 26, the IC IG, Michael Atkinson, made an appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the subject of the notorious phone call between President Trump and Ukraine President Zelensky. This is the conversation that had created an epidemic of fecal incontinence among the left and our betters on the right. Apparently, the testimony he gave was unsatisfactory. It was made even more unsatisfactory by Atkinson refusing to answer some questions by senators but traipsing over to the House and dishing there. Senator Tom Cotton was not pleased. (By the way, let me note here for all the goobers who are still giving The Federalist a hard time over its story on the modification of the IG’s whistleblower intake form and claiming the story was “debunked”–leftist code phrase for “this fact is really inconvenient to my narrative”–one of the items in Cotton’s letter is Atkinson’s refusal to explain the modification.)
Pretty strong stuff. When you’re characterizing an IG’s testimony as “disappointing,” “insolent,” and “obstructive” something is terribly amiss. And I must admit that the actions of Atkinson in this affair lead me to believe that he’s an active participant in this latest attack on President Trump. The whole “Trump appointed” moniker that is hung on Atkinson to make it seem as though he’s some sort of Trump loyalist is just bullsh** and obfuscation. Atkinson’s roots are in the same DOJ National Security Division that is ground zero of the Russia Hoax.
For all of the good points Cotton makes, though, one is left with exactly the same feeling one used to get every time Mitch McConnell would fulminate about how evil it was to fund Planned Parenthood, or the unlamented Bob Corker complaining about Iran, right before both of them went off and cooperated with normalizing abortion and Iranian adventurism.
Inspector generals are not Middle Eastern potentates. They have independence but they are not autonomous. They are political appointees who have to answer to the president. If Cotton really believes Atkinson stonewalled the GOP in the Senate while cavorting with the Democrats in the House (a view, by the way, that I’m very sympathetic to if, for no other reason, then that the professional bureaucracy always sees the Democrats as the legitimate government and the Republicans as hostile interlopers), he can submit a complaint to the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE). That group can recommend disciplinary action to the president if an IG is found to be acting in a partisan manner. If several senators signed the complaint, you could be sure it was acted on. Or Cotton could direct this complaint to the acting DNI or, better yet, to the president and the Intelligence Committee could hail Atkinson back to testify, again, on the points where Cotton and his colleagues are unhappy.
What is not acceptable is for Cotton to seemingly accept this kind of high-handed treatment and deal with it by sending a letter that reads more like a press release than anything else. It could make you think that Cotton isn’t terribly serious about this but wants us to believe that he is. We’ve seen that movie too many times and we don’t like how it ends.