Reports that President Donald Trump repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s son have roiled Washington for days, after news of an intelligence community whistleblower complaint about the incident surfaced last week.
But on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suggested he was upset that Democrats were even discussing the complaint publicly.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Democrats were the reason the story was front page news, McConnell said.
“I’ve been disappointed to see our colleague, the Democratic leader, choose to politicize the [Senate Intelligence] Committee’s ongoing efforts with respect to a recent whistleblower allegation, the specific subject of which is still unknown,” McConnell said.
The complaint to the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, is now being blocked from release to Congress by Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire.
McConnell contrasted Democrats’ alarm about the complaint — and Maguire’s handling of it — with the Senate Intelligence Committee, which, he described as working “on a bipartisan basis, in secure settings, out of the public spotlight, to conduct critically important oversight of classified and sensitive matters.”
Noting that the committee was working to get Atkinson and Maguire before the committee this week, McConnell suggested Democrats, not Maguire, had broken the rules.
“I believe it’s extremely important that their work be handled in a secure setting, with adequate protections, in a bipartisan fashion,” he said of the intelligence committee, “and based on facts rather than leaks to the press.”
Maguire refused to comply with a House subpoena to hand over the complaint last week. Before that, he wrote to both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees that he was withholding the complaint from Congress, despite the Atkinson’s belief that Congress should see it.
“It is regrettable,” McConnell continued, “that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Schiff and Senator Schumer have chosen to politicize the issue, circumventing the established procedures and protocols that exist so the committees can pursue sensitive matters the appropriate, deliberate, bipartisan manner.”