Posts tagged with "Whistleblower complaint"

‘No one is above the law.” With Pelosi imprimatur, impeachment inquiry hurtles forward

September 26, 2019

With gravity and solemnity, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California)—who had stood firm as the voice of reason for many months, resisting efforts to launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump—said at 5 p.m. on September 24 in an address to the American people, “No one is above the law.”

And with those words, she announced a formal impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, saying that the president’s growing Ukraine scandal marked a “breach of his Constitutional responsibilities,” NBC News reported.

“This week the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically,” Pelosi said.

Indeed, several media outlets, including NBC News, reported that, last summer, the president had withheld hundreds of millions in Congressionally approved military aid to the Eastern European nation—using the funds as leverage to get the “oppo research” he wanted on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

On Monday, The Washington Post and other media outlets reported that Trump, in lockstep with the attorney general, instructed his acting chief of staff to place a hold on about $400 million in military aid for Ukraine in the days before a late July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” she continued. “Therefore, today I am announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.”

Pelosi said she was formally directing the House’s six committees that have jurisdiction over impeachment, oversight and other related matters to “proceed with their investigations under that umbrella.”

“The president must be held accountable,” she said. “No one is above the law.”

Pelosi’s change of heart came as dozens of House Democrats—now about 200 members—have come out in support of an impeachment inquiry in the wake of reports that Trump may have withheld aid to Ukraine to pressure officials there to investigate the son of political rival Joe Biden.

Trump responded on Twitter within moments of Pelosi’s announcement, saying, “They never even saw the transcript of the call. A total Witch Hunt!”

He also demeaned the House Speaker, and the chairmen of the House Judiciary, Intelligence, and Financial Services committees—all of whom are expected to collaborate on impeachment charges—tweeting, “Pelosi, Nadler, Schiff and, of course, Maxine Waters! Can you believe this?”

Earlier, Trump told reporters that an impeachment inquiry would help him in the 2020 election but would harm the country.

“If she does that they all say that’s a positive for me in the election. You could also say who needs it, it’s bad for the country,” he said, according to NBC News.

And in an effort to defuse the situation, on Wednesday, he released a transcript of the call to the Ukraine president.

Pelosi reacted to the release of the transcript with a statement on her website:

“The release of the notes of the call by the White House confirms that the President engaged in behavior that undermines the integrity of our elections, the dignity of the office he holds, and our national security. The President has tried to make lawlessness a virtue in America and now

“I respect the responsibility of the President to engage with foreign leaders as part of his job. It is not part of his job to use taxpayer money to shake down other countries for the benefit of his campaign. Either the President does not know the weight of his words or he does not care about ethics or his constitutional responsibilities.

“The transcript and the Justice Department’s acting in a rogue fashion in being complicit in the President’s lawlessness confirm the need for an impeachment inquiry. Clearly, the Congress must act.“As we await the transmittal of the full whistleblower complaint to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, it is important to note that the complaint was determined by the Inspector General to be a matter of ‘urgent concern’ and ‘credible

“The Intelligence Community has long recognized that whistleblowers constitute a vital part of our national security apparatus and that they must be protected. I reiterate my long-standing call to protect the whistleblower from retaliation.”

While Senate Republicans continue to support the president; once the whistleblower complaint is in the hands of Congress, the inquiry is expected to gain momentum—at least in the House.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Pelosi forewarns of ‘new stage of investigation,’ if Trump continues to block whistleblower

September 24, 2019

Patience has its limits: And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), who has remained reluctant to start impeachment proceedings until a majority of the U.S. electorate demands them, may just have been pushed too far.

Indeed, Pelosi has said in a letter to House members that—unless the White House allows Acting Director of National Security Joseph Maguire to hand over a whistleblower complaint to the House Intelligence Committee, as required by law—she is prepared to take steps.

The complaint, it has now been revealed, relates to phone calls by President Donald Trump last summer to the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

During those conversations, the POTUS allegedly asked Zelenskyy numerous times to investigate Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden and his son Hunter—or he would not release $250 million in Congressionally approved military aid to the Eastern European nation.

In her letter of September 22, Pelosi said, “The Administration is endangering our national security and having a chilling effect on any future whistleblower who sees wrongdoing”

She noted that the White House’s efforts to block the House Intelligence panel from seeing the complaint “must be addressed immediately” and warned of a “new stage of investigation” if the administration continues to block the whistleblower. 

“This violation is about our national security. The Inspector General determined that the matter is ‘urgent’ and therefore we face an emergency,” Pelosi wrote.

“If the Administration persists in blocking this whistleblower … they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation,”she said. 

Pelosi also called on congressional Republicans “to join us” in asking the acting director of national intelligence to “obey the law as we seek the truth to protect the American people and our Constitution.”

To date, Trump has not confirmed whether he asked Ukraine to investigate Biden, and the White House has not released the complaint or a transcript of the call, according to a report by The Hill.

Members of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday received a briefing from the intelligence community’s inspector general but did not receive information about the complaint’s contents, the news outlet said.

Trump told reporters Sunday he would consider releasing the transcript of his call with the Ukrainian president.

In her letter, Pelosi, who has been cautious of calling for impeachment, fails to go as far as some of her fellow Democrats, The Hill said —many of whom have accused Trump using the presidency to bully foreign leaders into digging up information on

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California) has been similarly cautious to back impeachment, but said Sunday that if allegations over Trump reaching out to Ukraine are true, impeachment “may be the only remedy.”

Research contact: @thehill

Whistleblower complaint remains in White House hands, despite demands by House Intel panel

September 19, 2019

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire—who took over the post just over a month ago, on August 15, when Dan Coats stepped down— has refused to comply with a deadline to hand over a whistleblower complaint to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, CNN reports.

The committee had announced its intent to issue a subpoena on September 13, noting that the complaint had been deemed by the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, Michael Atkinson, to be “credible and urgent.”

At that time, Representative Adam Schiff (D-California), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee put out a statement that read: “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. The Inspector General of the Intelligence Community found that complaint not only credible, but urgent. More than ten days since the Director was obligated to transmit the complaint to the intelligence committees, the Committee has still not received the disclosure from the Director, in violation of the law.

“A Director of National Intelligence has never prevented a properly submitted whistleblower complaint that the IC IG determined to be credible and urgent from being provided to the congressional intelligence committees. Never. This raises serious concerns about whether White House, Department of Justice or other executive branch officials are trying to prevent a legitimate whistleblower complaint from reaching its intended recipient, the Congress, in order to cover up serious misconduct.

“After Watergate exposed significant intelligence abuses, a critical bargain was struck: In exchange for the Intelligence Community’s willingness to reveal closely guarded national security secrets, the congressional intelligence committees and leadership promised to handle that information responsibly.  It was also of vital importance that intelligence officials have a lawful and protected means of bringing misconduct to the attention of Congress and the public. By withholding a credible whistleblower complaint that potentially deals with executive branch wrongdoing, the DNI is in violation of the applicable statute and has made itself a party to the concealment of potentially serious misconduct.”

However, on the night of September 17, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence sent letters to committee Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, and Ranking Republican Devin Nunes of California, saying the complaint “does not meet the definition of ‘urgent concern’ because it does not relate to ‘intelligence activity,’ “ CNN reported.

The complaint “involves confidential and potentially privileged matters relating to the interests of other stakeholders within the Executive Branch,” a copy of the letter, obtained by CNN, says, adding that complying with the committee’s requests “will necessarily require appropriate consultations.”

In the letter, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence reveals that the complaint does not involve anyone in the intelligence community but rather “stakeholders within the Executive Branch.” As a result, its lawyer argues, the complaint is not of “urgent concern” to the committee.

The office says it plans to work with the House intelligence Committee but given that executive branch members are involved, there are “confidential and potentially privileged matters” that “will necessarily require appropriate consultations.”

What’s more, Maguire has indicated that he will not appear at a scheduled congressional hearing on Thursday; his office says he “is not available on such short notice.”

In response, Schiff said: “The IC IG determined that the complaint is both credible and urgent, which is why the Committee must move quickly. The Committee’s position is clear—the Acting DNI can either provide the complaint as required under the law, or he will be required to come before the Committee to tell the public why he is not following the clear letter of the law, including whether the White House or the Attorney General are directing him to do so. He has yet to provide the complaint in response to the Committee’s subpoena, so I expect him to appear on Thursday, under subpoena if necessary.”

According to CNN, Schiff also argued that Maguire had acted outside the authority of his post by consulting with the Department of Justice about the complaint as he involved “another entity within the Executive Branch in the handling of a whistleblower complaint.

Schiff declined to say whether he has been contacted by the whistleblower or their legal representation, saying he wouldn’t want to jeopardize them.

However, a source familiar with the situation told CNN on Tuesday that legal counsel for the unknown individual is discussing next steps.

However, the options appear to be limited.

A source familiar with the case told CNN that the Intelligence Community Whistleblowers Protection Act likely only offers one real path forward: circumventing the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and giving the complaint directly to the committee.

That route is not likely to be taken, CNN said: At the end of the day, the statute doesn’t clearly allow the whistleblower to go straight to Congress.

Research contact: @CNN