Trump Defends Himself Against Whistleblower Complaint

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President Donald Trump greet visitors during a State Arrival Ceremony for Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Washington – President Donald Trump defended himself Friday against a whistleblower’s complaint including a reported private conversation he had with a foreign leader.

The complaint, which the administration has refused to let Congress see, is “serious” and “urgent,” the government’s intelligence watchdog said. But Trump said he’s done nothing wrong.

Some of the whistleblower’s allegations appear to center on Ukraine, according to The Washington Post and The New York Times. The newspapers cited anonymous sources familiar with the matter. The Associated Press has not confirmed the reports.

In a tweet Friday, Trump did not reference Ukraine or any other country, but said “there was nothing said wrong.” He tweeted about “the perfectly fine and respectful conversation.”

The standoff raises fresh questions about the extent to which Trump’s allies are protecting the Republican president from oversight and, specifically, whether his new acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, is working with the Justice Department to shield the president from the reach of Congress.

It also plunged the Trump administration into an extraordinary showdown with Congress over access to the whistleblower’s complaint as lawmakers press their oversight of the executive branch.

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. A lawmaker said the complaint was “based on a series of events.”

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.

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.

“The inspector general has said this cannot wait,” said Schiff, describing the administration’s blockade as an unprecedented departure from law. “There’s an urgency here that I think the courts will recognize.”

Schiff said he, too, could not confirm whether newspaper reports were accurate because the administration was claiming executive privilege in withholding the complaint. But letters from the inspector general to the committee released Thursday said it was an “urgent” matter of “serious or flagrant abuse” that must be shared with lawmakers.

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 on Thursday dismissed it all, noting that others would be aware of the call.

“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.

During an interview Thursday on CNN, Giuliani was asked whether he had asked Ukraine to look into Biden. Giuliani initially said, “No, actually I didn’t,” but seconds later he said, “Of course I did.”

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.”

Among the materials Democrats have sought is a transcript of a phone call Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on July 25.

This new situation, stemming from the whistleblower’s Aug. 12 complaint, has led to Democratic lawmakers’ public concern that government intelligence agencies and the recently named acting director might be under pressure to withhold information from Congress.

Trump named Maguire, a former Navy official, as acting intelligence director last month, after the departure of Director Dan Coats, a former Republican senator who often clashed with the president, and the retirement of Sue Gordon, a career professional in the No. 2 position.

Maguire has refused to discuss details of the whistleblower complaint, but he has been subpoenaed by the House panel and is expected to testify publicly next Thursday. Maguire and the inspector general, Michael Atkinson, also are expected next week at the Senate intelligence committee.

Atkinson wrote in letters that Schiff released that he and Maguire had hit an “impasse” over the acting director’s decision not to share the complaint with Congress.

While Atkinson wrote that he believed Maguire’s position was in “good faith” it did not appear to be consistent with past practice. Atkinson said he was told by the legal counsel for the intelligence director that the complaint did not actually meet the definition of an “urgent concern.” And he said the Justice Department said it did not fall under the director’s jurisdiction because it did not involve an intelligence professional.

Atkinson said he disagreed with that Justice Department view. The complaint “not only falls under DNI’s jurisdiction,” Atkinson wrote, “but relates to one of the most significant and important of DNI’s responsibilities to the American people.”

The inspector general said he requested authorization to at the very least disclose the “general subject matter” to the committee but had not been allowed to do so. He said the information was “being kept” from Congress. These decisions, the inspector general said, are affecting his execution of his duties and responsibilities.

(AP)

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19 COMMENTS

  1. If the Complaint is not such a big deal then why isTrump doing everything he can to cover it up? No American in history has been so corrupt and self-serving. Did his Cabinet and crooked appointees swear an oath to him or to the United States? The evil SS swore alliegance to hitler, not to Germany.

    • Dumb comment.

      Its not a big deal but the dems make everything a big deal just like opposition research became collusion. We cannot give you lairs even small deals because you make a fuss about everything. And frankly its none of anybody’s business what trump tells other leaders. presidents need to have thier own space to conduct business. Just like I am not trival to my CEO’s business

    • Your a moron. Your supported evil obumer harasha was the worst most dangerous president ever who hated American and Israel and loved radical Muslims. Gave Iran million and nukes.
      Let Putin and Russia do and take what they wanted.
      Evil obumer destroy the economy, and was racist who cause race riots. Feh

      • why do you utter such lies? it’s unbecoming a reader of this blog.
        at the beginning of Obama’s term, the undemployment rate was 10%. when he left it stood at 4%.
        the ecomony was headed straight to a major recession when he took office. he stopped the decline.
        he sent Israel all the weapons it ever asked, for a full 8 years. do you think that was true of other presidents? hell , no.
        so stop your lies, leah, it that’s your name. leah is one of our matriachs, so act accordingly !!!!!

  2. No instead he didn’t respond militarily when they knocked out our drone, put mines on oil tankers and bombed a Saudi oil field all while bragging about how strong the U.S. is.

  3. As reported in multiple news sources:

    ““For me, it’s crystal clear” that the Trump administration was seeking to trade military aid for Ukraine’s war against Russian-backed separatists for political favors, Daria M. Kaleniuk, the executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center in Kiev, said in an interview.”

    Gee

    • Rudy Gulianai the mayor of America and our 9-11 undisputed hero already addressed this issue. The president should be questioning any illgeal activity that occurs in his jurisdiction.

      OY vey collusion 2020 here we come

      • I’m curious to know, Archy, why you think that Rudy Guiliani is “America’s Mayor, and the 9/11 hero”. What exactly did he do from 9/11/01-12/31/01, besides walking around the area near Ground Zero, and showing himself on television, walking around? Seven weeks after the attack, On Nov. 1, 2001, he had his cops arrest the firefighters at Ground Zero, because he refused to pay them any more money for overtime. He used a “safety” issue as a pretext; however, that was a lot of baloney, since firefighters, by the nature of their work, face safety issues all of the time. In summary, Guiliani’s role on 9/11, and the days afterwards, has been vastly overblown. The real heroic individuals of 9/11 was not Guiliani, but the firefighters, cops, EMS workers, Sanitation workers, and Hatzolah, which to this date, has received very little credit.

        • Rudy was on the scene and showed support putting int 24/7 effort. Re the firefighters its your fake news spin that claims it wasn’t for safety reasons. There is a reason the world all cheered for Rudy in 2001. History has a habit of making you forget. I know now he is your villain bec he has the nerve to support Trump. But that doesn’t change the facts

          • To: “Educated” (a misnomer) Archy:
            As our great President Ronald Reagan once stated at a Presidential debate, with Jimmie Carter “there you go again”. It is impossible to have a civil dialogue with you, without you resorting to name calling ” (i.e. accusing me of spreading fake news”), and accusing me of questioning Rudy Guiliani’s “legend”, because of his support for Trump. The fact of the matter is that I had the exact same opinion of Guiliani, long before Trump was even on the scene. The man is a phony; he went after the brave NYFD firegighters with a vengeance, as he wanted to save some money paying them overtime, regarding the cleanup at Ground Zero. The fact of the matter is that construction crews were still cleaning up the debris, for nearly a year, after he had the firefighters arrested. He is a serial philanderer, also. The other night, on television, he lost his cool, and came across as an angry barking dog. I never saw Trump lose his cool in that manner. When he was U.S. Attorney, he went after Bess Myerson (the first and only Jewish Miss America), with a vengeance, on some baloney charge. Fortunately, she was acquitted. When he was twenty two years old, in 1966, and was eligibile for conscription into the armed forces, he had a Federal Judge, whom he was clerking for, send a letter to his draft board, that his service was “vital to the national defense”. Give me a break! He was too lazy, and chicken to serve his country. In 1966, I enlisted in the armed forces of the USA, and was proud to have done so. Unlike Rudy, I didn’t try to get a draft exempt job, because of influence. I proudly told my drill instructor that I was a Jew, when they asked Catholics, and Methodists, to report for religious services. The drill instructor came over to me, and told me where the Jewish personnel would have services. As Sgt. Joe Friday of Dragnet used to state, “Just give me the facts”. I’ve given you the facts about Rudolph Guiliani. If you don’t like to hear those facts, tough!

  4. Well the impeachment thing isn’t working, so they now have to try something else, something else, etc. etc. People keep om voting for the same representatives and senators and you will keep on getting the same old thing. I call congress the crying millionaires, but their hate this time is overwhelming.

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