Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017. (Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)
A whistleblower, who is said to be an intelligence community official, submitted a formal complaint to the Intelligence Community Inspector General (IC IG) Michael Atkinson, on August 12, which alleges that President Trump made an unknown “promise” to a foreign leader during a phone call.
The identity of the foreign leader and the nature of the “promise” are unknown.
The Washington Post reported early Thursday morning that “two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter” said this complaint has “triggered a tense showdown between the U.S. intelligence community and Congress.”
Their sources said, “Trump’s interaction with the foreign leader included a “promise” that was regarded as so troubling that it prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community.”
When an IG regards a matter as “urgent,” according to the Washington Post, it meets a “legal threshold that requires notification of congressional oversight committees.” But acting Director of National Intelligence Chief (DNI) Joseph Maguire, has refused to turn over the details to Congress.
On Friday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, issued a subpoena for Maguire. Politico reported that Maguire is being accused of taking extraordinary steps to illegally withhold a whistleblower complaint from Congress that could potentially be covering up the president’s misconduct. I posted about this here.
Schiff issued the following statement:
A Director of National Intelligence has never prevented a properly submitted whistleblower complaint that the [inspector general] determined to be credible and urgent from being provided to the congressional intelligence committees. Never. This raises serious concerns about whether White House, Department of Justice or other executive branch officials are trying to prevent a legitimate whistleblower complaint from reaching its intended recipient, the Congress, in order to cover up serious misconduct.”
The Committee can only conclude, based on this remarkable confluence of factors, that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or Administration officials.
The subpoena demanded that Maguire submit the required material by September 17. If he failed to do so, “he will be compelled to appear before lawmakers on Capitol Hill on September 19.”
Politico reported that Maguire’s office replied with the following statement:
We received the HPSCI’s subpoena this evening. We are reviewing the request and will respond appropriately. The ODNI and Acting DNI Maguire are committed to fully complying with the law and upholding whistleblower protections and have done so here.
On Sunday, Schiff appeared on CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” and said Atkinson had described the complaint as “urgent” and “credible.” He said:
I can’t go into the contents but I can tell you that at least according to the Director of National Intelligence, this involves an issue of privileged communications. So, I think it’s fair to assume this involves either the president or people around him or both.
If the Director of National Intelligence is going to undermine the whistleblower protections, it means that people are going to end up taking the law into their own hands and going directly to the press instead of the mechanism that Congress set to protect classified information.
Today, Atkinson testified before a closed-door session of the House Intelligence Committee.
Fox News reported that following his testimony, Schiff “voiced concerns about not having access to the information, warning Congress could use legal action or budgetary powers as leverage.” He said, “What’s at stake here goes well beyond this complaint and this president.”
The general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Jason Klitenic, wrote that “the allegation does not meet the definition of “urgent concern.” The complaint concerned conduct from someone outside the intelligence community and did not relate to intelligence activity under the DNI’s supervision.”
Maguire is scheduled to testify publicly on Sept. 26.
Atkinson received the whistleblower complaint on August 12th and “submitted it to Maguire two weeks later. By law, Maguire is required to transmit such complaints to Congress within seven days. But in this case, he refrained from doing so after turning for legal guidance to officials at the Justice Department.”
Schiff responded with almost immediate indignation, firing off a letter demanding a copy of the complaint and warning that he was prepared to subpoena senior U.S. intelligence officials. The DNI has asserted that lawyers determined there was no notification requirement because the whistleblower complaint did not constitute an urgent concern that was “within the responsibility and authority” of Maguire’s office.
Legal experts said there are scenarios in which a president’s communications with a foreign leader could rise to the level of an “urgent concern” for the intelligence community, but they also noted that the president has broad authority to decide unilaterally when to classify or declassify information.
Revealing how the United States obtained sensitive information could “compromise intelligence means and methods and potentially the lives of sources,” said Joel Brenner, former inspector general for the National Security Agency.
At this time, there is too little information out there to make a determination one way or the other. However, based upon the deep state’s campaign to destroy Trump over the last three years, it’s difficult to take this seriously. And Schiff’s involvement makes it nearly impossible. Schiff played a major role in perpetuating the bogus Russian collusion allegations and then refused to let go.
President Trump has forcefully denied any wrongdoing. Via twitter, he sent the following message.
Another Fake News story out there – It never ends! Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. No problem!
Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!