The nation's top intelligence official is illegally withholding a whistleblower complaint, possibly to protect President Donald Trump or senior White House officials, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff alleged Friday.
Schiff issued a subpoena for the complaint, accusing acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire of taking extraordinary steps to withhold the complaint from Congress, even after the intel community's inspector general characterized the complaint as credible and of "urgent concern."
“A Director of National Intelligence has never prevented a properly submitted whistleblower complaint that the [inspector general] determined to be credible and urgent from being provided to the congressional intelligence committees. Never," Schiff said in a statement. "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."
Schiff indicated that he learned the matter involved "potentially privileged communications by persons outside the Intelligence Community," raising the specter that it is "being withheld to protect the President or other Administration officials." In addition, Schiff slammed Maguire for consulting the Justice Department about the whistleblower complaint "even though the statute does not provide you discretion to review, appeal, reverse, or countermand in any way the [inspector general's] independent determination, let alone to involve another entity within the Executive Branch."
"The Committee can only conclude, based on this remarkable confluence of factors, that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or Administration officials," Schiff wrote in a letter to Maguire on Friday.
The initial whistleblower complaint was filed last month, and Schiff indicated that it was required by law to be shared with Congress nearly two weeks ago. His subpoena requires the information to be turned over by Sept. 17 or else he intends to compel Maguire to appear before Congress in a public hearing on Sept. 19.
Schiff said Maguire declined to confirm or deny whether the whistleblower's complaint relates to anything the Intelligence Committee is currently investigating or whether White House lawyers were involved in the decision-making about the complaint.
Officials in Maguire’s office acknowledged Schiff’s subpoena late Friday.
“We received the HPSCI's subpoena this evening. We are reviewing the request and will respond appropriately,” said a senior intelligence official. “The ODNI and Acting DNI Maguire are committed to fully complying with the law and upholding whistleblower protections and have done so here.”