President Donald Trump notified Congress on Friday evening that he was firing a key intelligence community figure that sparked the Ukraine probe, and Democrats rushed to call it unfair "retribution."
"This is to advise that I am exercising my power as President to remove from office the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, effective 30 days from today," Trump said in the letter.
Michael Atkinson served as the intelligence community's chief watchdog and was the first to notify Congress about the whistleblower complaint that led to the impeachment inquiry against the president.
The president said in the letter that he no longer had confidence in Atkinson and that he would be relieved of his duties in 30 days.
"As is the case with regard to other positions where I, as president, have the power of appointment, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General," Trump added.
Democrats immediately pounced on the opportunity to accuse the president of politically motivated retribution.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) accused the president of trying to diminish the independence of the intelligence community.
"President Trump's decision to fire Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson is yet another blatant attempt by the President to gut the independence of the Intelligence Community and retaliate against those who dare to expose presidential wrongdoing," Schiff said.
"At a time when our country is dealing with a national emergency and needs people in the Intelligence Community to speak truth to power, the President's dead of night decision puts our country and national security at even greater risk," he added.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) defended Atkinson.
"Michael Atkinson is a man of integrity who has served our nation for almost two decades," he tweeted.
Michael Atkinson is a man of integrity who has served our nation for almost two decades. Being fired for having the… https://t.co/R8erQ2bavb— Chuck Schumer (@Chuck Schumer)1585967930.0
"Being fired for having the courage to speak truth to power makes him a patriot," he concluded.
Here's more about the firing from Fox News:
Trump fires Inspector General Atkinson: Report www.youtube.com