Michael Atkinson broke his silence Sunday saying he's "disappointed and saddened" at President Trump's late-night decision just a day earlier to fire him from his watchdog post in the intelligence community.
"It is hard not to think that the president's loss of confidence in me derives from my having faithfully discharged my legal obligations as an independent and impartial inspector general, and from my commitment to continue to do so," Atkinson wrote in a two-page statement.
The watchdog had alerted Congress to concerns about a Trump phone call with the president of Ukraine – a matter that led to the president’s impeachment last year.
Atkinson stood by his decision to disclose a whistleblower's complaint against Trump, adding: "Those of us who vowed to protect a whistleblower's right to safely be heard must, to the end, do what we promised to do, no matter how difficult and no matter the personal consequences."
He continued, "I have never been a political or partisan person."
Trump said Saturday he would appoint a replacement to Atkinson "who has my full confidence and who meets the appropriate qualifications," at a later time.
Although presidents typically have appointed IGs, each watchdog is expected to remain impartial to the executive branch of government as well as Congress.