Published: Fri, September 20, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Whistleblower Complains After Trump 'Promise' to Leader

Whistleblower Complains After Trump 'Promise' to Leader

The White House has started releasing readouts of the President's formal calls with leaders once again - including several which are now under scrutiny after a communication between Trump and a foreign leader prompted a whistleblower complaint that is now at the center of a dispute between the director of national intelligence and Congress.

Trump defended himself on Twitter Thursday, calling the reports about the whistleblower "Fake News", and saying that he understands that "virtually anytime" he talks on the phone with a foreign leader, USA and foreign agencies may be listening. Trump tweeted. "Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various United States agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself". One former official said the communication was a phone call. "I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the US!" he tweeted. "The committee places the highest importance on the protection of whistleblowers and their complaints to Congress", he said Wednesday.

Schiff called acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire's refusal to share the complaint with Congress "unprecedented" and said he understood the Justice Department was involved in the decision.

The letter came on Tuesday, the same day that Maguire refused a subpoena issued by House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) for the whistleblower's complaint.

'The Committee's recent experience has heightened concern of improper White House efforts to influence your office and the Intelligence Community, ' Schiff wrote in the September 10 letter.

He added: "This information is of the utmost concern because it bears on our security as well the integrity of the intelligence community".

For another, the inspector general did determine that the appropriate destination for the complaint is Congress' intelligence committees.

The matter burst into public view last Friday, when Schiff revealed that an unspecified whistleblower complaint had been filed with the inspector general of the intelligence community but was being withheld from his committee. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who sits on the Senate intelligence committee, said he believes his panel may be next in line. But Maguire balked. "The complaint here involves confidential and potentially privileged matters relating to the interests of other stakeholders within the Executive Branch".

Andrew Bakaj, a former intelligence officer and an attorney specializing in whistle-blower reprisal investigations, confirmed that he was representing the whistle-blower but declined further comment.

Now Maguire has sent a new letter to Schiff once again refusing to forward the complaint.

Almost a week after the controversy first broke, Donald Trump today offered a response to reports about the complaint filed by an intelligence community whistleblower.

"I have requested authorization from the Acting DNI to disclose, at the very least, the general subject matter of the Complainant's allegations to the congressional intelligence committees", the letter reads. A whistleblower must first submit a complaint to the IG, who determines whether it's an "urgent concern" and "credible".

Maguire had argued that the complaint was not a matter of "urgent concern" because it dealt with someone outside the intelligence community and focused on an activity outside the DNI's supervision.

Neither the White House nor the Department of Justice immediately responded to a request for comment.

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