The whistleblower complaint reportedly involving a discussion between President Trump and a foreign leader was based on more than one incident, said a Democratic lawmaker who attended the House Intelligence Committee’s closed-door meeting Thursday with the intelligence community’s inspector general.
Lawmakers said the inspector general, Michael Atkinson, declined to share incidents during the meeting.
Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) also told The Hill that Atkinson did not talk about the contents of the whistleblower complaint during the private session with lawmakers.
Atkinson was “very careful” about what he said, Stewart said.
Two people familiar with Atkinson’s appearance first told The New York Times that Atkinson repeatedly declined to share details with lawmakers and that he would not confirm or deny anything about the substance of the complaint.
The Washington Post late Wednesday first reported that a whistleblower filed a complaint with Atkinson after Trump made a troubling “promise” to a foreign leader during an interaction.
It is not clear who the foreign leader was, or what Trump said. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) also said they are not sure whether the press reports are true or not, but they do believe that “there is an effort to prevent this information from getting to Congress.” Schiff signaled that they believe the White House may be involved, though he said Atkinson did not say either way if they were.
The complaint has become the focal point of a standoff between the House Intelligence Committee and the intelligence community, with acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire withholding details about the incident.
President Trump earlier Thursday dismissed the Post’s report as “another Fake News story” while defending his conduct while on calls with foreign leaders.
“Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. No problem!” the president tweeted.
“Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call,” he continued. “I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!”
Another Fake News story out there – It never ends! Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. No problem!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2019
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) deferred to Schiff (D-Calif.) when asked about reports that Atkinson declined to share details.
“I obviously trust the judgment of our committee chair, Adam Schiff, and he’s following this very closely with an expert eye in what the law is, what protections there are for whistleblowers and where does it cross a line of a conversation that the president may have — and that he may make for our nation — that the public should be aware of,” Pelosi told reporters.
Schiff said in a statement that Thursday’s appearance from Atkinson was scheduled as a “briefing on the handling of the whistleblower complaint,” not on its contents.
Maguire has agreed to testify in open session on Thursday, Sept. 26, according to the congressman.
–This breaking news report was last updated at 3:45 p.m.