Sun, 17 Nov 2019

Trumps Denies Improper 'Promise' to Foreign Leader

Voice of America
20 Sep 2019, 04:05 GMT+10

VOA National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.

WHITE HOUSE - U.S. President Donald Trump is uttering his oft-cited 'Fake News' accusation to rebut reports he made a 'promise' to a foreign leader that sparked an American intelligence official to file a whistleblower complaint.

"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!" the president tweeted on Thursday.

Trump, who has frequently accused the U.S. intelligence community of being part of a 'Deep State' opposition to his presidency, said he is aware that "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's comments came as the House intelligence committee held a closed-door session with Michael Atkinson, the U.S. intelligence community's inspector general.

Lawmakers are hoping to learn more details of the secret whistleblower complaint that has sparked a legal battle between lawmakers and the Trump administration.

Atkinson told lawmakers on Thursday he was unable to confirm or deny anything about the substance of the complaint, including whether it involved the president, reported the New York Times, attributing the information to people who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the closed-door conversation.

Atkinson's testimony came the morning after the Washington Post reported the complaint involves communications between Trump and a foreign leader that mentioned a 'promise.'

The Post says its report was based on two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter, but it is not clear which leader was in communication with Trump or what the president may have promised.

White House records indicate Trump spoke with at least five foreign leaders in the preceding five weeks before the reported August 12 date of the complaint when he was at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey.

They are Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani.

Congressman Adam Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence committee, said Atkinson determined the whistleblower complaint was "both credible and urgent," meaning under law it has to be reported to Congress.

"The Committee places the highest importance on the protection of whistleblowers and their complaints to Congress," Schiff said in a statement.

"I obviously trust the judgement" of Schiff, replied House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when asked on Thursday about scheduled Sept. 26 public testimony by the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, who has so far refused to provide details of the complaint to lawmakers.

A lawyer for Maguire's office said the allegation in the complaint does not meet the "urgent concern" standard.

Senator Mark Warner said Thursday he and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr "have made it very clear" that they expect Maguire and Atkinson to testify and "clear this issue up."

Warner added that "you cannot end up with some circumstance where you have got a whistleblower muzzled."

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