Donald Trump denies having improper talk with foreign leader
Published 12:34 PM EDT Sep 19, 2019
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Thursday denied making an improper promise to an unnamed foreign leader, as the House Intelligence Committee investigated a whistleblower’s complaint against the president.
Saying that “many people” within the government have access to his conversations with international counterparts, Trump tweeted: “Is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call (?).”
Trump did not specify details of the complaint against him, nor did other administration officials.
The Washington Post, citing unnamed sources, reported that “Trump’s interaction with the foreign leader included a ‘promise’ that was regarded as so troubling that it prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community.”
Amid Trump’s denial, the House Intelligence Committee held a closed-door meeting with the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson.
He has refused to provide Congress with details of the whistleblower’s complaint about Trump’s dealings with an unnamed foreign leader, said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Atkinson “determined that this complaint is both credible and urgent, and that it should be transmitted to Congress under the clear letter of the law,” Schiff said.
Yet, according to Schiff, the office of the Director of National Intelligence has refused to turn over the complaint itself, saying it involves classified information.
Schiff said that Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is scheduled to testify before his committee next Thursday.
“The Committee,” Schiff said, “places the highest importance on the protection of whistleblowers and their complaints to Congress.”
Trump’s aides have not commented on the whistleblower complaint, which was filed on Aug. 12.
In the weeks prior to that date, Trump’s conversations with foreign leader included Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, and Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
Trump’s critics have accused him of mishandling classified information. They point to 2017 incident in which Trump allegedly discussed intelligence information in a meeting with Russian officials.
After that incident, Trump said he the “absolute right” to share intelligence information with other countries, and that in the case of Russia it involved terrorism and airline safety.
“I cannot remember a whistleblower trying to blow a whistle on a president, & this cant just be about Trump’s handling of classified materials,” tweeted Michael McFaul, ambassador to Russia during the Barack Obama administration. “Like it or not, the president can declassify whatever he wants when he wants. Something bigger seems to be going on.”