The acting director of national intelligence is withholding a mysterious whistleblower complaint of 'urgent concern' that may involve Trump

FILE PHOTO - U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to address the 2019 National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) week conference in Washington, U.S., September 10, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at HBCU week conference in WashingtonReuters

  • The acting Director of National Intelligence, Jerry Maguire, is withholding a whistleblower complaint alleging serious wrongdoing within the intelligence committee that may involve President Donald Trump, the House Intelligence Committee revealed on Friday.
  • Maguire was required to turn over the complaint to congressional intelligence committees more than ten days ago but refuses to do so. The House panel subpoenaed Maguire on Friday to turn over the complaint.
  • Notably, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff disclosed that Maguire consulted the Justice Department about the whistleblower complaint, which is a major departure from the norm.
  • Maguire's office also refused to comment on whether the White House was involved in the decision to withhold the whistleblower complaint, and whether the complaint relates to any matters being investigated by Schiff's committee.
  • "The Committee can only conclude, based on this remarkable confluence of factors, that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or Administration officials," Schiff said.
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The House Intelligence Committee believes that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is withholding a whistleblower complaint alleging serious wrongdoing within the intelligence community that may involve President Donald Trump or senior administration officials.

California Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the committee, subpoenaed the acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Joseph Maguire, to turn over the complaint on Friday evening.

"A month ago, a whistleblower within the intelligence community lawfully filed a complaint regarding a serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of law, or deficiency within the responsibility or authority of the Director of National Intelligence," Schiff said in a statement. The Intelligence Community Inspector General (IC IG) determined that the complaint was credible and a matter of "urgent concern."

Before it issued the subpoena, the committee found out that the whistleblower's complaint "involves confidentially and potentially privileged communications by persons outside the Intelligence Community and the ODNI refused to rule out that the underlying conduct relates to an area of active investigation by the committee, raising serious concerns that the whistleblower complaint is being withheld to protect the President or other Administration officials," Schiff's statement said.

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The IC IG first notified the committee of the whistleblower complaint on September 9. The next day, Schiff requested a full, unredacted copy of the complaint, the IC IG's findings related to the matter, and all records connected to the ODNI's involvement, "including any and all correspondence with other Executive Branch actors including the White House."

Schiff said the acting DNI was required by law to turn over the complaint to congressional intelligence committees more than ten days ago but refuses to do so.

The ODNI declined the committee's request on Friday and said Maguire is withholding the complaint in part because it "involves confidentially and potentially privileged communications by persons outside the Intelligence Community."

Schiff said it's unclear "whether this decision to withhold the disclosure was made only by you, or whether it involved interference by other parties, including the White House."

Notably, Schiff revealed that Maguire consulted the Justice Department about the whistleblower complaint, which is a major departure from the norm. He also disclosed that the ODNI refused to comment on whether the White House was involved in the decision to withhold the whistleblower complaint, and whether the complaint relates to any matters being investigated by the committee.

"The Committee can only conclude, based on this remarkable confluence of factors, that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or Administration officials," Schiff said.

Read more: New York prosecutors are investigating whether the Trump Organization fabricated business records and broke state law

Federal law "does not provide you discretion to review, appeal, reverse, or countermand in any way the IC IG's independent determination, let alone to involve another entity within the Executive Branch in the handling of a whistleblower complaint," Schiff wrote to Maguire in a letter accompanying the subpoena.

He added that the committee has concerns about "improper White House efforts to influence [the ODNI] and the Intelligence Community" based on recent events.

Schiff was likely referring to Trump's move to replace former DNI Dan Coats with Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee and catapulted into the spotlight over the summer for berating the former special counsel Robert Mueller when he testified about the Russia investigation.

Ratcliffe has a history of fueling the president's unfounded conspiracy theories tied to the Russia probe, and his nomination came as a shock to current and former intelligence officials, who told Insider he would be an arm of the White House who could paralyze the intel community.

Ratcliffe withdrew from consideration amid the public firestorm surrounding his nomination, and Maguire took over as acting DNI until the president nominates someone to fill the position.

"As Acting Director of National Intelligence, you have neither the legal authority nor the discretion to overrule a determination by the IC IG," Schiff said in his letter to Maguire.

Schiff said in his statement that if Maguire doesn't comply with the subpoena, the committee will compel him to appear before it in an open hearing on Thursday.

Schiff's panel is involved in a multitude of investigations involving Trump, his businesses, and his ties to Russia. Schiff has signaled particular interest in examining the former special counsel Robert Mueller's counterintelligence findings related to Trump and his campaign in the Russia investigation. He's also zeroed in on the Trump Organization's efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow at the height of the 2016 election.

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