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Tom Cotton to Trump-Appointed ICIG: Your Testimony Was ‘Evasive to the Point of Being Insolent and Obstructive’


Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) on Wednesday penned a vociferous letter to Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) Michael Atkinson, deriding the Trump-appointed official over his appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee last month.

“Your disappointing testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on September 26 was evasive to the point of being insolent and obstructive,” Cotton wrote. “Despite repeated questions, you refused to explain what you meant in your written report by ‘indicia of an arguable political bias on the part of the Complainant in favor of a rival political candidate.’”

Cotton was referring to reports saying that the Ukraine whistleblower who filed a complaint about the July 25 Trump-Zelensky phone call was a registered Democrat who previously had a working relationship with a current 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. The nature of the “working relationship” and the whistleblower’s identity are not known, though nearly all of the relevant details outlined in their complaint have been verified and confirmed.

Cotton continued his onslaught against Atkinson, accusing the ICIG of “moralizing” by not disclosing information Cotton wanted to hear.

“This information is, of course, unclassified and we were meeting in a closed setting. Yet you moralized about how you were duty bound not to share even a hint of this political bias with us,” Cotton wrote, before mentioning the media reports about the whistleblower’s political affiliations. “I’m dissatisfied, to put it mildly, with your refusal to answer my questions, while more fully briefing the three-ringed circus that the House Intelligence Committee has become.”

The junior senator for Arkansas then closed by indicating that Atkinson’s failure to disclose information about the whistleblower was evidence that the House’s impeachment inquiry is motivated by nothing more than partisan politics.

“This information is urgently relevant for the American people and their elected representatives to evaluate the complainant’s credibility and to determine whether the House’s so-called impeachment inquiry has been, in reality, a well-coordinated partisan attack from the beginning,” Cotton concluded.

The whistleblower’s attorneys Mark Zaid and Andrew Bakaj on Wednesday responded at length to various efforts to “detract from the substance” of their client’s complaint.

They said the whistleblower “never worked for or advised a political candidate, campaign, or party,” and has spent their “entire government career in apolitical, civil servant positions in the Executive Branch.”

Cotton’s invective has not been the only attack on Atkinson. The president also criticized the ICIG in a Wednesday morning tweet-storm.

“Why doesn’t the ICIG do something about this Scam?” Trump asked. “He should have never let it start, a Dem Hoax!”

[image via CBS screengrab]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.