The Intelligence Community Inspector General told Congress he was being blocked from giving a whistleblower a way to securely tell the House about allegations that reportedly deal with a promise the President made to a foreign leader, according to a newly released batch of letters.
The House Intelligence Committee released two letters on Thursday written by ICIG Michael Atkinson. The first letter — sent on Sept. 9 — discloses the existence of a whistleblower complaint while the second — sent on Sept. 17 — tells lawmakers that Atkinson has “not been authorized” to help the whistleblower disclose information, or to provide “basic information” about the complaint to Congress.
Saying the substance of the complaint “relates to one of the most significant and important of the DNI’s responsibilities to the American people,” Atkinson described in the Sept. 17 letter “disagreement” between himself, the Justice Department, and acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire.
“I have requested authorization from the Acting DNI to disclose, at the very least, the general subject matter of the Complainant’s allegations to the congressional intelligence committees,” the letter reads. “To date, however, I have not been authorized to disclose even that basic information to you, in addition to the important information provided by the Complainant that is also being kept from the congressional intelligence committees.”
By law, Maguire is required to transmit complaints that meet a standard of “urgent concern” to Congress after review by the ICIG. In this case, reporting indicates, the matter of “urgent concern” refers to an alleged “promise” that President Trump made to an unnamed foreign leader.
The acting DNI is also required to provide guidance to the whistleblower on how to securely transmit information directly to Congress upon request, in a process that goes through the ICIG.
In this case, Atkinson wrote, Maguire has refused to provide information on how the whistleblower can securely pass sensitive information to Congress. Atkinson also expressed worry for the whistleblower’s protection from “reprisal or the threat of reprisal.”
The ICIG said that while Maguire had provided a “personal assurance” that the tipster’s identity would be protected, that wasn’t enough. Rather, Atkinson wrote, the tipster needs “the legally enforceable statutory protection previously available to whistleblowers in the Complainant’s situation.”
Atkinson added that the DNI’s decision “may reflect a gap in the law that constitutes a significant problem and deficiency concerning the DNI’s responsibility and authority — or perceived responsibility and authority — relating to intelligence programs or activities.”
He said that Maguire’s position was “affecting the execution of two of my most important duties and responsibilities.”
The letter came on Tuesday, the same day that Maguire refused a subpoena issued by House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) for the whistleblower’s complaint.
Maguire had argued that the complaint was not a matter of “urgent concern” because it dealt with someone outside the intelligence community and focused on an activity outside the DNI’s supervision.
It’s unclear if the activities described in reporting since then — Trump promising a foreign leader something alarming enough to trigger this complaint — comport with Maguire’s argument.
In the Sept. 9 letter initially informing Congress of the matter, Atkinson noted that the DNI’s handling of the issue “does not appear to be consistent with past practice.”
Atkinson also wrote that he disagreed with the Justice Department’s “analysis of the facts” in the situation, referencing a Sept. 17 letter he sent to the DOJ outlining his position.
Read the first letter where the IG told Congress about the whistleblower here:
Read the letter Atkinson sent on Tuesday here: