WASHINGTON (CN) – The House Intelligence Committee Thursday released two letters that detail an intelligence community watchdog’s disagreements with how the acting director of National Intelligence handled a whistleblower complaint that reportedly concerns President Donald Trump.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the complaint centers on communications Trump had with an unspecified foreign leader. Citing former U.S. officials familiar with the matter, the Post reported the communication included a “promise” that troubled the whistleblower.
The whistleblower deemed the complaint an “urgent concern,” which would normally trigger a mandatory process to disclose the report to the congressional intelligence committees.
In a Sept. 9 letter to the chair and top Republican of the House Intelligence Committee, Inspector General of the Intelligence Community Michael Atkinson wrote that he found the complaint was “credible” and met the definition of an urgent concern.
He delivered the complaint and other materials that came with it to Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, but Maguire did not forward them to the Intelligence Committee. Instead, after consulting with the Department of Justice, Maguire determined the complaint did not qualify as an urgent concern as defined by federal law.
In a letter to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Atkinson said while he believes Maguire is “acting in good faith,” the determination he made does not square with how the agency has handled similar claims in the past.
In a second letter dated Sept. 17, Atkinson wrote he disagreed that the whistleblower’s complaint “does not concern an intelligence activity within the DNI’s authority,” and with the Justice Department’s analysis of the facts at issue in the dispute.
“I set forth the reasons for my concluding that the subject matter involved in the complainant’s disclosure not only falls within the DNI’s jurisdiction, but relates to one of the most significant and important of the DNI’s responsibilities to the American people,” Atkinson wrote, summarizing a letter he wrote to the Justice Department.
He said he is bound by Maguire’s determination and that he has not received permission to disclose even the “general subject matter” of the whistleblower’s claims.
Atkinson briefed the House Intelligence Committee Thursday morning and Schiff has called Maguire to testify before the committee next week. Schiff told reporters Thursday the committee cannot confirm whether press reports about the contents of the complaint are accurate or whether the White House is behind the secrecy surrounding the complaint.
“We’re determined to do everything we can to determine what this urgent concern is to make sure that the national security is protected and to make sure that this whistleblower is protected,” Schiff told reporters Thursday morning.