Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community, refused to confirm or deny the substance of the complaint, including whether it involved the president, according to sources within the closed-door briefing Thursday.
Representative Adam B. Schiff, director of the House Intelligence Committee, says the refusal to provide information or even share the complaint from an intelligence official who filed his concerns with the Inspector General’s office, is a first.
Such complaints are routinely provided to the committee.
Reports The New York Times:
But whatever Mr. Trump said was startling enough to prompt the intelligence official to file a formal whistle-blower complaint on Aug. 12 to the inspector general for the intelligence agencies. Such a complaintis lodged through a formal process intended to protect the whistle-blower from retaliation.
Rep. Schiff, Democrat of California, has been locked in the standoff with Mr. Maguire over the complaint for nearly a week. He said Mr. Maguire told him that he had been instructed not to give the complaint to Congress, and that the complaint addressed privileged information — meaning the president or people close to him were involved.
The reports about the whistle-blower complaint touched off speculation about what Mr. Trump said and to whom.
And current and former intelligence officials have expressed surprise that during his first few months as president, Mr. Trump shared classified information provided by an ally, Israel, with the Russian foreign minister.
Members of Congress from both parties have expressed concern about Trump’s apparent willingness to share classified information with foreign leaders, including dictators considered enemies.
Sen. Angus King, an independent, says the law “is very clear” that the whistleblower complaint must be shared with Congress.
“The Inspector General determines what level of concern it is. Once the determination is made,” he says, the director of national intelligence “has a ministerial responsibility to share that with Congress. It is not discretionary.”
“This is based upon the principle of separation of powers and Congress’s oversight responsibility,” Mr. King adds. He is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
As president, Trump has made it clear time and again, that he does not feel any obligation to obey the law.
“I am the president,” he has said. “The law does not apply to me.”
His response to the complaint?
Another Fake News story out there – It never ends!” Trump tweets. “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!”
Such feelings are among the reasons the House of Representatives is considering articles of impeachment.
An increasing number of members of Congress now feel it is time to “dump Trump.”
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