Intelligence Official to Brief Lawmakers Over Mystery Complaint

Billy House

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. intelligence officials have agreed to meet with the House Intelligence Committee, apparently ending a standoff over a still-mysterious whistleblower’s report.

The agreement was announced on Wednesday evening, hours before the Washington Post reported, citing unnamed sources, that the complaint involved communications between President Donald Trump and a foreign leader. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Post report. Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The intelligence community inspector general, Michael Atkinson, will appear at a closed briefing on Thursday morning to discuss “the handling of the whistleblower complaint,” the committee said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

Also, Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is to testify publicly before the panel on Sept. 26, according to the statement. The agreement seemed to head off the latest confrontation between congressional committees that are pursuing investigations of Trump and his administration, and a White House that largely refuses to cooperate.

Schiff, a California Democrat, had been demanding that Maguire comply with a committee subpoena to turn over the report of alleged “serious misconduct,” which Schiff said might involve the White House.

The few additional details the committee’s investigative staff has learned about the whistleblower complaint without the actual document has left them shaken, according to an official familiar with the matter who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue.

The unidentified whistleblower has been revealed as “an individual within the intelligence community,” who had made the complaint to the inspector general of the intelligence community, including in the Tuesday letter from Klitenic in response to Schiff’s request for information and a Sept. 13 communication with the panel.

The Tuesday letter reveals the complaint concerned conduct by someone outside the intelligence community, and involves “confidential and potentially privileged matters relating to the interests of other stakeholders within the executive branch.”

The complaint was filed about a month ago, Schiff has said.

In this instance, the inspector general had determined the complaint to be credible and of “urgent concern,” which Schiff says meant that Maguire was then required by statute to submit the complaint to the congressional intelligence committees - but he refused to do so.

Jason Klitenic, the general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told Schiff in a letter on Tuesday that the law did not require that the complaint be turned over to Congress.

The DNI, after consulting with the Department of Justice, responded that no statute, in fact, required disclosure of the details of this type of complaint to the congressional intelligence committees.

Klitenic did write to Schiff that the DNI was committed to working out a acceptable accommodation with the committee. He added that the DNI also pledged to continue to protect the whistleblower’s identity, and would not permit that person to become the target of any retaliation.

Trump chose Maguire to become the acting director of national intelligence when Dan Coats stepped down last month. Maguire had been the chief of the National Counterterrorism Center.

(Updating with Washington Post report, in second paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Billy House in Washington at bhouse5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kevin Whitelaw at kwhitelaw@bloomberg.net, John Harney

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