A potentially explosive complaint by a whistle-blower in the intelligence community said to involve President Trump was related to a series of actions that go beyond any single discussion with a foreign leader, according to interviews on Thursday.
The complaint was related to multiple acts, Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for American spy agencies, told lawmakers during a private briefing, two officials familiar with it said. But he declined to discuss specifics, including whether the complaint involved the president, according to committee members.
It’s not clear whether those multiple acts were by Trump. But we do know Trump’s phone call to the foreign leader was one of them. Keep in mind that the reason Congress isn’t learning the details here is because Trump’s Justice Department has advised the Director of National Intelligence not to turn over the whistleblower’s complaint, in violation of the law. -- gs
* John Wagner and Karoun Demirjian report that House Democrats are pretty fed up with this:
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) warned of possible legal action Thursday if intelligence officials did not share a potentially explosive whistleblower complaint prompted by President Trump’s interactions with a foreign leader.
Schiff called acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire’s refusal to share the complaint with Congress “unprecedented” and said he understood the Justice Department was involved in the decision.
“We cannot get an answer to the question about whether the White House is also involved in preventing this information from coming to Congress,” Schiff said, adding: “We’re determined to do everything we can to determine what this urgent concern is to make sure that the national security is protected.”
I have no idea whether, if we actually learn what this was all about, it’ll be the kind of blockbuster revelation that could bring down a president. But the Trump administration is sure acting like it is.
* Erica Werner reports that things are not looking good in Congress:
The House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to keep the government open through late November, setting up a huge showdown later this year over President Trump’s border wall that could force another shutdown before Thanksgiving.
The short-term nature of Thursday’s legislation was the result of failed efforts to complete a broader spending package ahead of Sept. 30, when government funding runs out absent congressional action. The need for the stopgap measure shows how fundamental spending issues remain unresolved and deeply problematic, even though they were supposed to have been largely dispatched by a sweeping budget and debt ceiling deal completed over the summer.
We know how President Trump loves a good shutdown, so...
* Ken Dilanian and Julia Ainsley report that the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel seems to be the ones most actively preventing Congress from learning what that whistleblower reported. No one will say if one William Barr is involved.
* Gregory Schneider and Laura Vozzella report that Democrats have a fundraising advantage going into this year’s key legislative elections in Virginia.
* Jeff Hauser and Eleanor Eagan explain how Democrats can try to make the impeachment of Trump a kitchen-table concern.
* And Rebecca Jennings looks under the hood of the Elizabeth Warren selfie line.