Congress, intel leaders clash over whistleblower report on Trump

The US intelligence watchdog briefed lawmakers Thursday about the handling of a whistleblower complaint on alleged behavior by President Donald Trump, and a senior Democrat expressed alarm that the administration refuses to share the complaint with Congress, reports BSS/AFP.

The allegations, rejected by Trump as “presidential harassment,” have set lawmakers on a collision course with the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), which is refusing to share the details — raising suspicions the top spy official might be improperly protecting the president.

According to a report by The Washington Post, which cited two unnamed former US officials for its story, a complaint filed by a US intelligence official stemmed from Trump’s communications with a foreign leader and a “promise” allegedly made by the president.

The foreign leader involved was not identified by the Post. The newspaper did say the complaint “centers” on Ukraine, and cited two people familiar with the matter. The New York Times also reported Thursday that “at least part of” the whistleblower’s complaint “deals with” Ukraine. 

The newspaper cited two people familiar with the situation. Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was elected in May, about two weeks before the complaint was filed, according to both newspapers. The whistleblower had filed a complaint with the inspector general of the intelligence community (IC IG), Michael Atkinson, who acknowledged that he considered it a credible matter of “urgent concern” that necessitated notifying congressional oversight committees. But during a three-hour closed-door briefing, Atkinson told the House Intelligence Committee that the acting DNI, Joseph Maguire, has barred him from providing details of the complaint to Congress.