WASHINGTON — A communication between President Donald Trump and a foreign leader prompted a whistleblower complaint that is now at the center of a dispute between the director of national intelligence and Congress, a source familiar with the case told CNN.
The concern was first revealed by The Washington Post, which reported that an official in the American intelligence community was so bothered by a “promise” Mr. Trump made to a foreign leader that the official filed a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general of the intelligence community, citing two former US officials familiar with the matter. CNN has not independently confirmed the detail about a “promise” made to the foreign leader.
The source who spoke to CNN would not disclose the foreign leader with whom President Trump was alleged to have spoken.
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 President dismissed the reporting on Thursday morning, asking if there is “anybody dumb enough to believe” it.
“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!,” he 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. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!” Mr. Trump said.
The complaint has led to a standoff between Congress and acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, who has refused to turn over the complaint to the House Intelligence Committee. Maguire has agreed to testify next week in an open session before the committee after refusing to comply with Tuesday’s deadline to hand over the whistleblower complaint, which had been deemed by the intelligence community inspector general to be “credible and urgent.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he was prepared to go to court to try to force the Trump administration to open up about the complaint.
“The inspector general has said this cannot wait,” said Schiff, describing the administration’s blockade as an unprecedented departure from law. “There’s an urgency here that I think the courts will recognize.”
Schiff said he, too, could not confirm whether newspaper reports were accurate because the administration was claiming executive privilege in withholding the complaint.