President Trump dismissed as “Fake News” an explosive claim by an intelligence whistleblower who says President Trump made a disturbing “promise” to an unspecified foreign leader.
“Is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially (monitored) call” Trump asked on Twitter. “I would only do what is right anyway.”
Another Fake News story out there - It never ends! 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!
Congress got a closed-doors briefing Thursday morning on the “handling of the complaint” from Inspector General Michael Atkinson. That eased a dramatic standoff between the executive and legislative branches of government, but Congress still remains in the dark about what the whistleblower actually said.
“We don’t know exactly what is in the substance of this complaint,” said Jim Himes (D-Conn.) after the hearing. “It could be nothing. It could be something very, very serious.”
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire will also testify publicly before the panel next week.
The anonymous whistleblower, described only as a member of the intelligence community, filed the complaint in August about alleged “serious misconduct.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has said the complaint might involve the White House, which has refused to comment on the mysterious incident. He said the Department of Justice was involved in blocking the whistleblower report from being divulged to Congress.
The Washington Post, citing unnamed sources, is reporting that the complaint involved a phone call in which Trump made a promise to a foreign leader. The Wall Street Journal and NBC News confirmed the report with their own sources.
Among the heads of state whom Trump spoke with around that time include the Emir of Qatar, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.
Trump supposedly called Putin to offer American help fighting raging forest fires in the Siberian hinterland around that time. He also later called for Russia to be readmitted into the G-8 group of world economic powers.
Prominent legal critics of Trump suggested the whistleblower complaint could be a major embarrassment to Trump that will be difficult to keep under wraps.
Federal law provides extensive protection to government workers who make such complaints and mandate congressional scrutiny of them, potentially offering an inside glimpse at Trump’s seat-of-his-pants style of dealing with foreign leaders.
Former solicitor general Neal Katyal predicted there would be transcripts of the conversation in question “documenting a gross abuse of power by Trump.”
This is going to be huge. DOJ& Admin are contorting themselves backwards to try to hide this. Truth will come out. There are probably tapes and transcripts documenting a gross abuse of power by Trump. Gonna be ugly.And enablers should all face consequences https://t.co/0HaeWkd6aI
McGuire is on the hot seat after just a couple of weeks on the job. Trump chose Maguire to become the acting director of national intelligence when Dan Coats stepped down last month and his deputy, who would have succeeded him at least temporarily, also abruptly quit.
That sequence of events has raised eyebrows among insiders who question whether the musical chairs is somehow related to the whistleblower complaint.
In an extensive Twitter thread, Fordham Law professor Jed Shugerman suggested that the timeline offers tantalizing hints of a botched Trump cover up of the improper promise to a foreign leader, most likely Putin.
10/ To summarize:
My timeline suggests 2 possibilities (both could be true):
1. Late July: Trump made troubling promises to foreign leaders - perhaps illegal. To protect himself, he wanted to replace uncooperative Coates w/ a loyalist hack.
(But didn't know he'd been caught...)
The general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Jason Klitenic, said the allegation does not meet the definition of “urgent concern” and therefore does not need to be disclosed to Congress.