Whistleblower complaint based on multiple incidents; watchdog won't disclose info

The whistleblower complaint reportedly involving a discussion between President TrumpDonald John TrumpChasten Buttigieg: 'I've been dealing with the likes of Rush Limbaugh my entire life' Lawmakers paint different pictures of Trump's 'opportunity zone' program We must not turn our heads from the effects of traumatic brain injuries MORE and a foreign leader was based on more than one incident, said a Democratic lawmaker who attended the House Intelligence Committee's closed-door meeting Thursday with the intelligence community's inspector general.

Lawmakers said the inspector general, Michael Atkinson, declined to share incidents during the meeting. 

“He didn’t talk about anything about the allegations, where he was very protective,” said Intelligence Rep. Mike QuigleyMichael (Mike) Bruce QuigleyHillicon Valley: Officials worry about Nevada caucus technology after Iowa | Pelosi joins pressure campaign on Huawei | Workers at Kickstarter vote to unionize | Bezos launches B climate initiative The Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg to face off with rivals at Nevada debate Tech for Nevada caucuses under scrutiny after Iowa debacle MORE (D-Ill.). “But he did mention that this complaint was based on a series of events, ‘more than one’ to get the exact wordage right.”

Rep. Chris StewartChristopher (Chris) Douglas StewartHouse Republicans boycott public Intelligence panel hearing Trump considering Utah GOP lawmaker for top intelligence post: report  GOP lawmaker offering bill protecting LGBTQ rights with religious exemptions MORE (R-Utah) also told The Hill that Atkinson did not talk about the contents of the whistleblower complaint during the private session with lawmakers. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Atkinson was “very careful” about what he said, Stewart said.

Two people familiar with Atkinson's appearance first told The New York Times that Atkinson repeatedly declined to share details with lawmakers and that he would not confirm or deny anything about the substance of the complaint. 

The Washington Post late Wednesday first reported that a whistleblower filed a complaint with Atkinson after Trump made a troubling "promise" to a foreign leader during an interaction.

It is not clear who the foreign leader was, or what Trump said. House Intelligence Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGraham: Trump has 'all the legal authority in the world' to pardon Stone Roger Stone sentenced to over three years in prison Top intelligence community lawyer leaving position MORE (D-Calif.) also said they are not sure whether the press reports are true or not, but they do believe that "there is an effort to prevent this information from getting to Congress." Schiff signaled that they believe the White House may be involved, though he said Atkinson did not say either way if they were.

The complaint has become the focal point of a standoff between the House Intelligence Committee and the intelligence community, with acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire withholding details about the incident.

President Trump earlier Thursday dismissed the Post’s report as “another Fake News story” while defending his conduct while on calls with foreign leaders.

“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!" the president 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!"

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBloomberg faces criticism for tweet showing altered debate moment Trump knocks Democrats at rally: Bloomberg 'getting pounded' Biden earns endorsement from former House impeachment manager MORE (D-Calif.) deferred to Schiff (D-Calif.) when asked about reports that Atkinson declined to share details.

"I obviously trust the judgment of our committee chair, Adam Schiff, and he's following this very closely with an expert eye in what the law is, what protections there are for whistleblowers and where does it cross a line of a conversation that the president may have — and that he may make for our nation — that the public should be aware of,” Pelosi told reporters.

Schiff said in a statement that Thursday’s appearance from Atkinson was scheduled as a “briefing on the handling of the whistleblower complaint,” not on its contents.

Maguire has agreed to testify in open session on Thursday, Sept. 26, according to the congressman.

--This breaking news report was last updated at 3:45 p.m.