Sun | Oct 20, 2019

Trump administration blocks ‘urgent’ whistleblower disclosure

Published:Friday | September 20, 2019 | 10:06 AM
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff speaks to reporters after the panel met behind closed doors with national intelligence inspector general Michael Atkinson about a whistleblower complaint, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, September 19, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration plunged into an extraordinary showdown with Congress over access to a whistleblower’s complaint about reported incidents including a private conversation between President Donald Trump and a foreign leader.

The blocked complaint is “serious” and “urgent,” the government’s intelligence watchdog said.

The administration is keeping Congress from even learning what exactly the whistleblower is alleging, but the intelligence community’s inspector general said the matter involves the “most significant” responsibilities of intelligence leadership.

A lawmaker said the complaint was “based on a series of events.”

The Washington Post and The New York Times reported Thursday that at least part of the complaint involves Ukraine.

The newspapers cited anonymous sources familiar with the matter. The Associated Press has not confirmed the reports.

The inspector general appeared before the House intelligence committee behind closed doors Thursday but declined, under administration orders, to reveal to members the substance of the complaint.

The standoff raises fresh questions about the extent to which Trump’s allies are protecting the Republican president from oversight and, specifically, if his new acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, is working with the Justice Department to shield the president from the reach of Congress.

Trump, though giving no details about any incident, denied Thursday that he would ever “say something inappropriate” on such a call.

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