Trump defends his handling of talks with foreign leaders amid whistleblower complaint

President TrumpDonald John TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE on Thursday defended his conduct while on calls with foreign leaders following a report that one of those interactions is at the center of a complaint from a whistleblower in the intelligence community.

Trump dismissed the report as "another Fake News story" in a series of tweets and called the ensuing furor over his reported action "presidential harassment."

ADVERTISEMENT

"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!" Trump 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!"

 

The Washington Post on Wednesday first reported that the whistleblower filed a complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community after Trump made a troubling "promise" to a foreign leader during one interaction.

The specifics of the pledge and who Trump was speaking to were not clear, the Post reported.

The complaint is at the center of a standoff between the House Intelligence Committee and the intelligence community, as acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire has withheld details about the incident involving Trump, the Post reported.

Meanwhile, Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community, is set to meet with lawmakers on the committee on Thursday in a closed session. But Atkinson reportedly declined to share the contents of the complaint with lawmakers, further escalating tensions with Capitol Hill.

The whistleblower complaint has renewed concerns about Trump's handling of sensitive information.

Trump last month tweeted out a detailed photo of the site of a failed satellite launch in Iran, which experts suggested contained sensitive information.

The president also faced criticism in 2017 for sharing classified intelligence with the Russian ambassador during an Oval Office meeting.

In both of those cases, the president offered similar defenses, saying that he had "the absolute right" to share the information.

--Updated at 11:47 a.m.