Maggie Haberman, Charlie Savage and Nicholas Fandos at The New York Times:
President Trump is firing the intelligence community inspector general whose insistence on telling lawmakers about a whistle-blower complaint about his dealings with Ukraine triggered impeachment proceedings last fall, the president told lawmakers in a letter late Friday.
The move came as Mr. Trump announced his intent to name a White House aide as the independent watchdog for $500 billion in corporate pandemic aid and notified Congress of other nominees to inspector general positions, including one that would effectively oust the newly named chairman of a panel to oversee how the government spends $2 trillion in coronavirus relief.
The slew of late-night announcements, coming as the world’s attention is gripped by the coronavirus pandemic, raised the specter of a White House power play over the community of inspectors general, independent officials whose mission is to root out waste, fraud and abuse within the government.
Mr. Trump is ousting the intelligence community inspector general, Michael K. Atkinson, because he lost confidence in him, the president wrote in a letter to leaders of the two congressional intelligence committees. He gave no further explanation.
As for pandemic recovery, this story suggests the need for oversight. Ben Popken, Stephanie Ruhle and Michael Cappetta report at NBC:Trump’s dead of night decision to fire ICIG Michael Atkinson is another blatant attempt to gut the independence of the Intelligence Community and retaliate against those who dare to expose presidential wrongdoing.— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) April 4, 2020
It puts our country and national security at even greater risk. pic.twitter.com/Pnm7chdIkl
The launch day of the highly touted $350 billion small-business loan program had a stuttering start Friday, from technical issues with bank websites to opaque lending rules that appear to qualify hedge funds to get aid, while some cash-strapped local businesses were shut out.
"I know there’s a lot of hard-working small businesses that couldn’t get their applications processed this week," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin acknowledged in an interview on Fox Business on Friday afternoon. "They shouldn’t worry about it. There’s plenty of time, there’s plenty of money left."
“It’s been nothing short of a disaster. It’s been confusion at every turn,” said Grant Geiger, CEO of EIR Healthcare, which submitted a loan application Friday.
Geiger said he tried to apply via his company's primary lender, Wells Fargo, but was told the bank probably wouldn’t be ready to start accepting applications until Monday. The website he was directed to turned out to be little more than a shell.