The Trump administration plunged into an extraordinary showdown with Congress over access to a whistleblower’s complaint about reported incidents including a private conversation between President Donald Trump and a foreign leader.
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.
The Washington Post and The New York Times reported Thursday that the complaint involves Ukraine.
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.
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., the 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.
Schiff said he, too, could not confirm whether newspaper reports were accurate because the administration was claiming executive privilege in withholding the complaint.
The letters also made it clear that 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.
“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!” Trump tweeted.
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. Democrats are also looking into whether Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani traveled to Ukraine to pressure the government to aid the president’s reelection effort by investigating the activities of potential rival Joe Biden’s son Hunter, who worked for a Ukrainian gas company.
Giuliani told CNN that Trump was unaware of his actions. “I did what I did on my own,” Giuliani said. “I told him about it afterward.
Later, Giuliani tweeted, “A President telling a Pres-elect of a well known corrupt country he better investigate corruption that affects US is doing his job.”
This new situation, stemming from the whistleblower’s Aug. 12 complaint, 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.
Sonia Rina Landry is a passionate entrepreneur, speaker, author, and personal development coach. She is an outspoken advocate of the free market economy and has helped countless clients identify their core values, envision and realize goals that resonate with those values. She oversees several businesses online and offline.