Thursday, 23 January, 2020

Trump Fires Back at Reports of Whistleblower’s Claim

US President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the East Room of the White House in Washington DC Keep Playing It Up’ Donald Trump Taunts ‘Fake News’ over Whistleblower Story NICHOLAS KAMM AFP Getty Images Charlie Spiering20 Sep 2019
Robin Buchanan | 20 September, 2019, 03:26

President Donald Trump denied Thursday that he made an "inappropriate" comment to a foreign leader in a phone call that formed the basis of a reported whistleblower complaint.

President Donald Trump on Thursday fired back at claims he inappropriately communicated with a foreign leader, dismissing the allegation as "fake news" and "presidential harassment".

Trump went on to wonder, "is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially "heavily populated" call".

The formal whistleblower complaint by a USA official that Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire has refused to turn over to Congress was reportedly sparked by an alarming "promise" President Donald Trump made to a foreign leader in recent weeks.

It's also a complaint Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire declined to hand over to Congress. He said the complaint "concerned conduct from someone outside the intelligence community and did not relate to "intelligence activity" under the DNI's supervision".

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is scolding acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire for refusing to share details of the complaint filed August 12, saying he is required to notify committees because of the IG's determination.

"By law, Maguire is required to transmit such complaints to Congress within seven days", the Post reported. The disregard for the law, Schiff wrote, had led to the committee to conclude "that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or administration officials".

It's still unclear whom the president spoke to, for example, or what he said. "To date, however, I have not been authorized to disclose even that basic information to you, in addition to the important information provided by the Complainant that is also being kept from the congressional intelligence committees".

Reuters has not been able to confirm details of the whistleblower's complaint.

Defenders of Maguire disputed that he is subverting legal requirements to protect Trump, saying that he is trapped in a legitimate legal predicament and that he has made his displeasure clear to officials at the Justice Department and White House.

'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. Given the president's obvious limitations, the number of people likely to find this persuasive is small.

Klitenic said the office was still willing to negotiate with the committee.

The inspector general "determined that this complaint is both credible and urgent", Schiff said in the statement released Wednesday evening.

It's not clear who the leader was or what the substance of Trump's promise was, but the revelation raises new questions about the president's handling of classified information.

"That whole goal is being frustrated here because the director of national intelligence has made the unprecedented decision not to share the complaint with Congress", Schiff told reporters Thursday.

There are numerous examples of the president's conversations with foreign leaders raising concerns - in 2017, the president shared intelligence with Russian officials in the Oval Office and in 2018 it was reported that the president ignored a message - "DO NOT CONGRATULATE" - from national security advisers - regarding Trump's call with Russian President Vladimir Putin after his election.

Reporters wait outside of a closed hearing room while Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson testifies on a whistleblower complaint, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Sept. 19, 2019.