Judicial Watch sues DOJ for emails, texts of Inspector General Michael Atkinson

Michael Atkinson serves as Inspector General of the Intelligence Committee. He is the second person to hold that position since its creation.

Seeks All Atkinson Communications Regarding Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Anthony Weiner, Twenty-Fifth Amendment and/or Presidential Impeachment, Including Emails and Text Messages with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and His Staff

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for communications records of Michael K. Atkinson – former Assistant Attorney General in DOJ’s National Security Division (NSD) from 2016 to 2018 and currently Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (ICIG) – regarding Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Anthony Weiner, the Twenty-Fifth Amendment and/or presidential impeachment; and for all emails and text messages with Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) and members of Schiff’s staff.

The suit was filed after the Justice Department failed to respond to an October 1, 2019, FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:19-cv-03566)). Judicial Watch seeks:

  • All emails (whether on .gov or non-.gov email accounts) and text messages sent to or from former Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General Michael K. Atkinson regarding Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Anthony Weiner, the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, and/or presidential impeachment.
  • All emails and text messages between former Senior Counsel Atkinson and Representative Adam Schiff or any member of Mr. Schiff’s staff.
  • All travel requests, travel authorizations and expense reports of former Senior Counsel Atkinson.
  • All calendar entries of former Senior Counsel Atkinson.
  • All SF50s and SF52s of former Senior Counsel Atkinson.

The NSD falls under the direct supervision of the assistant attorney general.

During Atkinson’s tenure at NSD, he was senior legal counsel, first to NSD head John Carlin (Robert Mueller’s former chief of staff when Mueller directed the FBI) and later to acting NSD head Mary McCord. McCord accompanied then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates to see White House Counsel Don McGahn regarding Michael Flynn.

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John Carlin served as Assistant Attorney General for National Security in the Obama Administration. He worked as Robert Mueller’s chief of staff and ran the national security division at the Justice Department, overseeing the pursuit of cyber criminals. He has publicly said the United States did not do enough to deter the hacking and leaking of Democratic Party emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.

During the period Atkinson was legal advisor to Carlin and later McCord, the FISA court found there was “significant non-compliance with the NSA’s minimization procedures involving queries of data,” otherwise known as spying, under the Obama administration. Additionally, during this period, DOJ-NSD was working in coordination with the FBI Counterintelligence Unit on Operation Crossfire Hurricane, which included former FBI officials Bill Priestap, Peter Strzok, and Lisa Page. Page was the intermediary between FBI Counterintelligence and DOJ-NSD.

Since becoming Inspector General, Atkinson also has come under scrutiny for his handling of the so-called “whistleblower” complaint raising concerns about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, which became the basis for the ongoing impeachment proceedings against Trump:

  • Atkinson changed the standing practice of requiring whistleblowers to present firsthand information in order to have their complaint considered both “credible” and “of urgent concern” for submission under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act.
  • After receiving the complaint and a recommendation from Atkinson that it be referred to Congress, the DNI refused to forward the complaint because, based on an opinion of the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel, “The complaint submitted to the ICIG does not involve an ‘urgent concern.’” In testimony before Congress, Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, said the complaint was essentially “hearsay” and not “corroborated by other folks.”
  • After the existence of the whistleblower was leaked to the press, Atkinson told Congress he was unaware the whistleblower had first gone around him to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and his staff with his complaint before submitting it to the IG’s office.

After listening to Atkinson testify about the whistleblower behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee on October 4, ranking Republican committee member Republican Devin Nunes (R-CA) said of him:

[The ICIG is] either totally incompetent or part of the deep state, and he’s got a lot of questions he needs to answer because he knowingly changed the form and the requirements in order to make sure that this whistleblower complaint got out publicly. So, he’s either incompetent or in on it … he’s either a quack or he’s lying … and he’s going to have more to answer for, I can promise you, because we are not going to let him go; he is going to tell the truth about what happened.

Schiff has yet to release Atkinson’s testimony.

“Mr. Atkinson has been a key Deep State official involved with questionable and abusive investigations of President Trump,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “As Adam Schiff keeps Atkinson’s testimony on the impeachment attack on President Trump secret, Judicial Watch goes to court for transparency under the law.”

Acting AAG for National Security McCord speaks in front of a poster of a suspected Russian hacker at the Justice Department in Washington
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord led the Justice Department’s investigation of foreign meddling into the 2016 election and possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. She left the department abruptly, in May of 2017, and declined to offer a public reason for her departure.

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