Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to the Department of Justice's Inspector General to demand he investigate Attorney General William Barr's comments defending President Trump's decision to fire the intelligence community's inspector general during a Fox News interview.
"I think the president did the right thing in removing Atkinson. From the vantage point of the Department of Justice, he had interpreted his statute, which is a fairly narrow statute, that gave him jurisdiction over wrongdoing by Intelligence people, and tried to turn it into a commission to explore anything in the government and immediately report to Congress without letting the Executive Branch look at it and determine whether there was any problem," Barr said during the interview. "He was told this in a letter from the Department of Justice and he is obliged to follow the interpretation of the Department of Justice, and he ignored it. So I think the president was correct in firing him."
The pair wrote that they want IG Michael Horowitz to determine if Barr's comments violated DOJ's rules on professional conduct:
"We write to request that you investigate whether recent public statements by Attorney General William Barr regarding former Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (ICIG) Michael Atkinson violated applicable Department of Justice (DOJ) policies and rules of professional conduct. In a televised interview on April 9, 2020, Mr. Barr blatantly mischaracterized Mr. Atkinson’s conduct and DOJ’s own actions relating to the complaint filed last summer by an Intelligence Community whistleblower. The complaint detailed President Trump’s efforts to coerce Ukraine to announce a politically-motivated investigation of his rival in the 2020 presidential election. Mr. Barr’s remarks followed the President’s admission on April 4 that he fired Mr. Atkinson in retaliation for Mr. Atkinson’s handling—in accordance with the law—of the whistleblower complaint. The House of Representatives’ investigation independently confirmed the whistleblower’s account of the President’s abuse of power, for which the President was subsequently impeached. Mr. Barr’s misleading remarks appear to have been aimed at justifying the President’s retaliatory decision to fire Mr. Atkinson."
Schiff and Nadler point to then-acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire affirming Atkinson had handled the whistleblower complaint, which sparked Trump's impeachment, "'by the book' and in strict accordance with statutory requirements."
"Adam Schiff mischaracterized countless 'evidence' against President Trump during impeachment. Maybe the Inspector General should look into Schiff's mischaracterizations instead of the Attorney General? This is just another baseless attack against the Trump Administration. The game has grown old," a Republican official with direct knowledge of Judiciary Committee inquiry told Townhall.
While Trump was eventually impeached by House Democrats on obstruction of Congress and abuse of power following the inquiry, he was acquitted by Senate Republicans.