At the very last minute of last week -- prime government news-dumping time -- Rep. Adam Schiff announced the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was (perhaps unlawfully) refusing to turn over a whistleblower report to House Intelligence Community.
That the ODNI would blow off its oversight isn't unusual. The Intelligence Community has long treated its obligations as mere suggestions, leaving it to whistleblowers and leakers to expose wrongdoing. What was a bit more unusual were the allegations being buried: what was forwarded to the ODNI by the IC Inspector General suggested the Trump Administration itself was involved.
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. This raises grave concerns that your office, together with the Department of Justice and possibly the White House, are engaged in an unlawful effort to protect the President and conceal from the Committee information related to his possible “serious or flagrant” misconduct, abuse of power, or violation of law.
Whatever is contained in the unseen report, the ODNI definitely does not want to talk about. Not even behind closed doors with the House Intelligence Committee. The New York Times reports the head of the ODNI has blown off Rep. Schiff's demands.
The acting director of national intelligence will not testify before Congress this week or immediately hand over a whistle-blower complaint to lawmakers, escalating a standoff between Capitol Hill and leaders of the intelligence agencies.
What little information has surfaced is still pretty much detail-free, but the ODNI's general counsel sent a letter to Schiff that adds a bit more to the theory these still-buried allegations involve top-level White House officials.
The complaint involves conduct by someone “outside the intelligence community” and does not involve intelligence activity under the supervision of Mr. Maguire, the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Jason Klitenic, wrote in a letter on Tuesday to Mr. Schiff that was obtained by The New York Times.
It is definitely someone outside of the intelligence community. The Washington Post blows the lid off the report the ODNI doesn't want to hand over to Congress. It indeed goes all the way to the top.
The whistleblower complaint that has triggered a tense showdown between the U.S. intelligence community and Congress involves President Trump’s communications with a foreign leader, according to two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
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, said the former officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
One of the officials said the communication was a phone call. Given the time frame, it appears to be one of several phone calls to world leaders Trump made in the preceding weeks, including a July 31 call to Vladimir Putin and communications with Kim Jong Un during the summer. Given the troubling things Trump has said publicly about these two, it doesn't stretch the imagination much to assume he's said some legitimately worrying things to them behind the scenes.
This would fit into the DNI's claims the whistleblower report can't be handed to the House Oversight Committee because it contains "confidential and potentially privileged communications." However, it does appear Rep. Schiff and the Committee will at least finally be hearing something about the buried report. The Washington Post report says acting ODNI Joseph Maguire -- along with IC Inspector General Michael Atkinson -- will be testifying at a closed Congressional hearing about the whistleblower complaint, contrary to the earlier New York Times reporting.
Unfortunately, that doesn't mean the public will hear much about the details. Whatever Trump said to whatever foreign leader will remain under wraps, even if the alleged "promise" has the potential to affect all of us.
Filed Under: adam schiff, donald trump, inspector general, national security, odni, whistleblower, whistleblower protections, whistleblowing