Donnie, You in Danger, Girl

Trump allegedly commits "multiple acts" that spark whistleblower campaign and Maguire stonewalls

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(Photo via J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press)

Adam Schiff recently concluded a private hearing with Acting Director of National Intelligence (D.N.I.), Joseph Maguire over the issue of obtaining more details about the whistleblower complaint involving Trump and alleged “promises” he made to a foreign leader. It was first reported by The Washington Post last night that Trump was thought to have had a single discussion with a foreign leader that prompted the investigation. However, new details are emerging from a private briefing early today and subsequent disclosures to the press, that reveal much more is involved in this whistleblower complaint.

According to Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for American spy agencies, the whistleblower complaint within the intelligence community involves Trump and is related to a series of actions that goes beyond any single discussion or “promise” to a foreign leader. Two officials confirmed to The New York Times that Atkinson declined to discuss specifics, including whether the complaint involved the president but did deem the threat “credible and urgent” enough to begin an investigation. It’s worth noting that Atkinson was put in his position by Trump and his role is one where he is expected to be independent in any investigation regardless of the subject. D.N.I. Maguire, who was also recently put in his position by Trump, is now being questioned with regard to his involvement and how far he has gone to help keep the complaint concealed from Congress.

(Photo of acting D.N.I. Joseph Maguire giving previous Congressional testimony, via J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press)

On September 13th, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), issued a subpoena to Acting D.N.I. Maguire to compel the production of the whistleblower complaint based on the Intelligence Community Inspector General’s independent determination that the complaint was credible and a matter of “urgent concern.” Under the law, once a whistleblower complaint is labeled with this status of “urgent concern,” a legal standard is triggered that typically requires that congressional oversight committees be notified within 10 days.

In this instance, Schiff claims that rather than comply with the duty to notify Congress in a timely fashion, acting D.N.I. Maguire instead consulted the Department of Justice about the complaint, even though the statute does not provide for consideration from another entity within the executive branch. This is cause for great concern given the allegations over the lack of compliance by acting D.N.I. Maguire thus far, and has left many Democrats suspicious that this might be another attempt to cover up more impropriety by the president.

“[The acting director of national intelligence] broke the law when he decided to basically intercept the inspector general’s report to Congress. [That’s] never been done before in the history of inspector general reports to the Congress, and the American people should be worried about that. We don’t know exactly what is in the substance of this complaint. It could be nothing. It could be something very, very serious.” — Rep. Jim Himes (D-CN)

It didn’t help matters that once Maguire received the subpoena from Schiff, Maguire’s response was to tell Schiff that he would not comply and give testimony because he was “not available on such short notice” and that this “would not be a productive exercise.” Ultimately, Maguire agreed to a closed door session with Congress today and a public hearing before the committee on September 26th.

In today’s closed session, Maguire refused to turn over the whistleblower complaint to Congress, citing that it did not rise to the level of “urgent concern” and was therefore under no legal obligation to comply. This prompted Rep. Schiff to give a press conference immediately after the hearing in which he accused the White House and Justice Department of working to prevent D.N.I. Maguire from sharing the complaint with Congress, as was their legal obligation (see video below).

Schiff also threatened legal action and suggested that the House could go to court to obtain access to the whistleblower complaint. Maguire argues that he has followed the letter of the law refusing to disclose the complaint, because the law in question only applies to a member of the intelligence agency and not the president. Schiff claims that the law favors him and has made it clear today that he is more than willing to go to court to seek a remedy.

With Maguire set to testify next week and the habit of Republicans refusing to show up for subpoenas or stonewalling if they do decide to appear, things are about to get extremely interesting. The determination by Intelligence Inspector General Atkinson that this whistleblower complaint was credible enough to warrant investigation and that it rose to the level of “urgent concern” could seriously undermine Maguire’s position legally. Although Atkinson has expressly stated that he has not disclosed specific details alleged in the complaint because he has not been authorized by Maguire to do so, details are obviously being leaked to the press about the specifics of Trump’s alleged actions contained in the whistleblower complaint. Schiff has also implied today that if the 26th does not go as expected, he has no problem challenging the actions of those involved in the courts to compel legal compliance.

Meanwhile Trump has used Twitter to call these reports “Fake News” and to declare his innocence, saying that anyone who would believe he would “say something inappropriate to a foreign leader” while the call was monitored is “dumb.” Then, he concluded with his go-to sympathy tweet, as seen below.

Update: According to interviews conducted by The New York Times, the whistleblower complaint involves at least one instance of Trump making an unspecified commitment to a foreign leader as well as other actions. At least part of the allegations within the complaint deals with Ukraine, according to two sources familiar with with the events. Stay tuned as this story will inevitably continue to unfold…

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Amee Vanderpool writes the “Shero” Newsletter and is an attorney, contributor to Playboy Magazine, analyst for BBC radio and Director of The Inanna Project. She can be reached at avanderpool@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.