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Trump Nominates Former Nunes Aide as Intelligence Community Inspector General

President Donald Trump points as he answers questions during a news conference at the White House, September 4, 2020. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

President Trump on Wednesday announced he would nominate National Security Council official Allen Souza, a former aide to Representative Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), to serve as the inspector general of the U.S. intelligence community, where he would replace an official the president fired in April.

Trump had fired Michael Atkinson, the IC’s previous inspector general, over his handling of a whistleblower complaint regarding the president’s call with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky that ultimately led to president’s impeachment last year. Thomas Monheim is currently serving as the acting intelligence community inspector general. 

Souza formerly served as staff director for Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, as well as a lawyer at the National Security Agency, and currently works as a principal deputy senior director for intelligence programs at NSC.

The White House sent Souza’s nomination to the Senate on Wednesday, almost immediately after Trump announced his intent to nominate the former Nunes aide. Souza will need to receive a confirmation hearing and a vote from the Senate to be confirmed.

Trump fired Atkinson in April saying he did a “terrible job” in handling the whistleblower complaint which he called a “fake report.”

“Not a big Trump fan, that I can tell you,” the president said of Atkinson. 

Atkinson brought the whistleblower complaint to Congress in August 2019, labeling it an “urgent concern.” The complaint was later released to the public by the White House after a standoff with Congress. Trump was impeached by the House and later acquitted by the Senate in February.

The Trump administration had removed several inspectors generals this spring. White House counsel Pat Cipollone said in response to an inquiry into the removals by Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) in May that, “When the President loses confidence in an inspector general, he will exercise his constitutional right and duty to remove that officer, as did President Reagan when he removed inspectors general upon taking office and as did President Obama when he was in office.”

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