Trump, in call, urged Ukraine to investigate Biden's son

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks to reporters after the panel met behind closed doors with national intelligence inspector general Michael Atkinson about a whistleblower complaint, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration plunged into an extraordinary showdown with Congress Thursday over access to a whistleblower’s reported complaint about incidents including a private conversation between President Donald Trump and a foreign leader. The blocked complaint is both “serious” and “urgent,” the government’s intelligence watchdog said.

The administration is keeping Congress from even learning what exactly the whistleblower is alleging, but the intelligence community’s inspector general said the matter involves the “most significant” responsibilities of intelligence leadership. One report said it involved a promise Trump made in a phone call to a foreign leader. A lawmaker said the complaint was “based on a series of events.”

The inspector general appeared before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors Thursday but declined, under administration orders, to reveal to members the substance of the complaint.

The standoff raises fresh questions about the extent to which Trump’s allies are protecting the president from oversight and, specifically, if his new acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, is working with the Justice Department to shield the president from the reach of Congress.

Trump, though giving no details about any incident, denied Thursday that he would ever “say something inappropriate” on such a call.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he was prepared to go to court to try to force the Trump administration to open up about the complaint.

“The inspector general has said this cannot wait,” said Schiff, describing the administration’s blockade as an unprecedented departure from law. “There’s an urgency here that I think the courts will recognize.”

The Washington Post reported the complaint involves an intelligence official’s allegation that Trump made a promise to an unidentified foreign leader in a telephone call. The Post cited two anonymous former U.S. officials.

The Associated Press has not confirmed the report.

Schiff said he, too, could not confirm whether the Post report was accurate because the administration was claiming executive privilege in withholding the complaint. But letters from the inspector general to the committee released Thursday said it was an “urgent” matter of “serious or flagrant abuse” that must be shared with lawmakers.

The letters also made it clear that Trump’s new acting director of national intelligence, Maguire, consulted with the Justice Department in deciding not to transmit the complaint to Congress in a further departure from standard procedure. It’s unclear whether the White House was also involved, Schiff said.

Because the administration is claiming the information is privileged, Schiff said he believes the whistleblower’s complaint “likely involves the president or people around him.”

Trump dismissed it all.

“Another Fake News story out there — It never ends!” Trump tweeted. “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!”

He asked: “Is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call.”

House Democrats are fighting the administration separately for access to witnesses and documents in impeachment probes. This new situation has led to their public concerns that government intelligence agencies and the recently named acting director might be under pressure to withhold information from Congress.

Trump tapped Maguire, a former Navy official, as acting intelligence director in August, after the departure of Director Dan Coats, a former Republican senator who often clashed with the president, and the retirement of Sue Gordon, a career professional in the No. 2 position.

Maguire has refused to discuss details of the whistleblower complaint, but he has been subpoenaed by the House panel and is expected to testify publicly next Thursday. Both Maguire and the inspector general, Michael Atkinson, are also expected next week at the Senate intelligence committee.

Atkinson wrote in letters that Schiff released Thursday that he and Maguire had hit an “impasse” over the acting director’s decision not to share the complaint with Congress.

While Atkinson wrote that he believed Maguire’s position was in “good faith” it did not appear to be consistent with past practice. Atkinson said he was told by the legal counsel for the intelligence director that the complaint did not actually meet the definition of an “urgent concern.” And he said the Justice Department said it did not fall under the director’s jurisdiction because it did not involve an intelligence professional.

Atkinson said he disagreed with that Justice Department view. The complaint “not only falls under DNI’s jurisdiction,” Atkinson wrote, “but relates to one of the most significant and important of DNI’s responsibilities to the American people.”

The inspector general went on to say he requested authorization to at the very least disclose the “general subject matter” to the committee, but had not been allowed to do so. He said the information was “being kept” from Congress. These decisions, the inspector general said, are affecting his execution of his duties and responsibilities.

Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley, a member of the panel, said Atkinson said that the complaint was “based on a series of events.”

In calling the inspector general to testify, Schiff said Atkinson determined the whistleblower complaint was “credible and urgent” and should be “transmitted to Congress.”

The inspector general’s testimony was described by three people with knowledge of the proceedings. They were not authorized to discuss the meeting by name and were granted anonymity.

Several lawmakers suggested the failure to disclose the complaint’s contents amounted to a failure to protect the whistleblower, another violation. However, the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Jason Klitenic, wrote in a letter Tuesday to the committee that the agency was indeed protecting the whistleblower.

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

Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said on MSNBC that the acting director “broke the law when he decided to basically intercept the inspector general’s report to Congress.”

That’s “never been done before in the history of inspector general reports to the Congress,” Himes said. “And the American people should be worried about that.”

Himes said, “We don’t know exactly what is in the substance of this complaint. It could be nothing. It could be something very, very serious.”

———

AP writers Eric Tucker and Zeke Miller contributed.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(32) comments

jsklinelga

I am thankful for President Trump, Our government needed a shakeup. I am still in disbelief a major figure in the US Senate , Sen. Schumer laughed saying (paraphrase) You do not mess with the Intelligence agencies because they have six different ways to get you. Think about that. A US Senator telling the President of the United States he better not cross our intelligent services or they will destroy you. Many younger folks do not remember the dark days of the CIA. I am thankful for the strong leadership of DJT

sofanna

A previous candidate for POTUS actually DID sell uranium to a potentially hostile foreign country, emails of national security were not protected, 4 US citizens were murdered because the State Department would not respond to their requests for more security. Now, why isn't the Country outraged, seriously outraged, by these actions? Double standard. The government protects whoever they want or destroys whoever they want. I don't trust 99% of what I hear or read because our Country now seems to believe LYING and getting away with it is a National past time. So very sad!!!

shiftless88

No, Sofanna, Hillary did not sell uranium. At all. Please look up the facts.

timothygaydos

1. This POTUS invoking executive privilege no different than Bush or Obama did the same regarding whistle blowers. 2. If the whistle blower thought there was something nefarious with the conversation topic, should have took the matter to their supervisor and follow protocol and then if no results do the whistle blower method. 3. POTUS can have any conversation he wants with a foreign or domestic person or persons and can declassify or classify anything he wants... 4. Asking the Ukraine to investigate criminal acts by Joe Biden's son and what Joe might have done is quite legal and is not collusion... get a life liberals or get back on your medications...

hayduke2

Where did you get your law degree? I hope you don't actually believe this.

rbtdt5

What did Tim say that's incorrect Hay?

shiftless88

not so much incorrect as misleading. Point 3 for example; the complaint has nothing to do with something that is or was classified.

hayduke2

Basically contradicting an IG and claiming he knows the true nature of this issue.

hayduke2

And you believe number 3 is correct? So the president can have ANY conversation he wants with a foreign power - say he inquires about imprisioning ( or worse) a visiting member of Congress who is a thorn in his side or hacking into their personal email - that's okay with you? Come on!

timothygaydos

Nothing was inaccurate, but on point that as POTUS the Constitution and supporting laws give the POTUS the ability to classified or declassified data in any form and if he wants to ask/request any country to do something - HE CAN! Just like Bush, Obama and so many others. We do not know what specific reason the whistle blower gave for filing the matter... again it does not matter as the POTUS pretty much can decide on things. Also there is no collusion or conspiracy as we learned thru the Mueller Report any political party or candidate can get dirt on their opponent - quite legal maybe not ethical but when looking at Hillary or Joe or Liz or Bernie let us not say they have better morals or ethics than Trump. All politicians are dirty one way or another it is just how dirty... the real test of the whole Mueller investigation was to see if there was any government involvement with the digging of dirt and guess what yes by the Democrats working with Obama's Admin.... now let us see where those reports go and just see if this whistle blower is credible like say CB Ford with her claims against the judge or the NY Times hit piece that was also lacking facts... once again liberals need to get on their medications and start back at therapy because 2020 will be so much worst for them on election night especially when Nancy loses the House... because of 4 idiots called the squad and Jerry Nadler and Schiff and Cummings keep trying to please them with BS witch hunts... have a great weekend!

hayduke2

timothy - check out https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/why-whistleblower-standoff-represents-a-unique-juncture-for-u-s-government

phydeaux994

You’ve been eating the Purple Ooze again tim.

shiftless88

2. The protocol was followed. Then the acting DNI broke the law by not reporting to Congress. 4. If this is legal and not collusion then why the fuss about releasing this information?

timothygaydos

Protocol was not followed the whistle blower went directly to Inspector General with the complaint and then only did the DNI get the information from the IG... also you do not let everyone know what exactly you are requesting from the Ukraine concerning Joe Biden's son illegal activities or whatever they wanted... and not everything is for general public....

hayduke2

Again, there are many who disagree with your take on following protocol and the IG is supposed to be independent- he arrived at a conclusion that this event was serious. You seem to interpret the events to suit your defense system.

hayduke2

As shared above, check out https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/why-whistleblower-standoff-represents-a-unique-juncture-for-u-s-government

mjdickerson

The protocol was likely followed. Anybody that has ever worked for the Government or a contractor should be familiar with the "Waste, Fraud and Abuse Hotline" setup for all the various offices. The DoD hotline makes these large red posters available that provide guidance. This is a hotline directly to the IG for that office and is the method we're supposed to use. There's even a line for classified reports. It allows anonymous reporting of misconduct at levels above ours, which is frequently where the main issues start (like billing and ethics).

olefool

Read my 9:00AM comment timothy. After this bloviation it appears that my entire comment is directed at you. In case you don't know, bloviation is a style of empty, pompous political speech described as "the art of speaking for as long as the occasion warrants, and saying nothing".

olefool

Like I said before... Trump's motto: If you can't win fair and square, cheat.... If you're a Trump fan and you think yourself a free thinker and patriotic American you better have a conversation with your bathroom mirror. This latest revelation of chicanery by Trump is the nadir of despicably.

jsklinelga

Veritas,

Your familiar "TDS" will be in high gear this morning. Just reading the first comment, filled with "apparent" and "supposed" references is a good indication or what is coming Jeff Bezos is no dummy. You want more info from the only source of the supposed incident, subscribe to the Washington Post. If the plethora of false stories that required redaction or apology recently was not such a sad state of affairs it would almost be funny. And to hear the chants of Trump is a liar from these sources is ....(no words)

phydeaux994

“only source”....no, Rudy Giuliani gave quite a bit of info on the supposed incident on CNN last night. As usual, I don’t think he helped Trump too much. Open mouth..insert foot. Thanks again Rudy!

public-redux

There has been a conspiracy theory that Rudy is getting revenge for not being named AG.

Dwasserba

I think Rudy has issues. Someone should save him from himself.

hayduke2

So, in your superior knowledge, you dispute what the IG states and agree that the the DIA should simply hide the facts from congress. Why don't you accept the constitutional seperation of powers and the norms that allow this process to be transparent. Did you hear Rudi say that this occurred? You are correct that it is TDS - Trump DEFENSE syndrome on full display. Next, you'll agree that the Saudi's should be dictating our response to Iran and others.

shiftless88

jsk; legally this report should be released. If it is not a big deal to POTUS then why not release it to Congress as per law?

hayduke2

jsk - plethora =

a large or excessive amount of Please provide all those that required a redaction or apology regarding the President...

FCPS-Principal

The Orange Orangutan offered to trade nuclear codes for a large resort hotel deal. Remember, Putin and the Orangutan are buddy-buddy. The Orangutan has something Putin wants (nuclear codes) and Putin has something the Orangutan wants (prestige and money). Remember, the Orangutan's sole agenda as president is to enrich himself and his family empire, leaving his debased base far behind.

User1

Skipped your meds again Fake Principle? Can’t get over that your Lying Hillary still lost!

DickD

Apparently, the POTUS contacted either the President of the Ukraine or Putin in Russia with a request for Ukraine to interfere with U.S.elections. Severalhigh ranking officials resigned recently. .it could be any one of them. Supposedly it's a criminal matter and urgent. Withholding an urgent matter is very bad and as we all know Moscow Mitch has refused to do anything to stop outside intreference with U.S. election.

FCPS-Principal

How many are involved in aiding the coverup for this yet another crime?

User1

Go back and take your meds faker!!!

User1

What crystal ball have you been looking into Dicky? No proof of any of what you said. Nothing released yet except that President Trump asked to Ukraine President to look into illegal action that then VP Biden took when traveling with his son ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS! Funny how immediately after he demanded the prosecutor be fired he was and his sons “business” got $1 BILLION. Then they went to China and got the same!!! Look it up!

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