Schiff Floats Taking DNI To Court To Get Details Of Whistleblower Complaint

on January 17, 2019 in Washington, DC.
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks in January 2019. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Following a relatively newsless briefing with the intelligence community’s inspector general on Thursday morning, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) indicated that he would use whatever means necessary to quickly obtain a mysterious intelligence community whistleblower complaint, which reportedly centers on President Trump.

Schiff floated going to court to get a restraining order or some “urgent form of relief” to access the contents of the complaint, which Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire has refused to hand over to Congress.

Intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson initially informed Congress of the complaint’s existence, but he declined to share the contents of the whistleblower complaint during a closed-door House Intelligence Committee session Thursday morning.

“I would imagine if it comes down that we have to go to court to get this, we will have a very good case to seek a temporary restraining order or … some urgent form of relief because the inspector general has said this cannot wait,” Schiff told reporters after the private briefing. “So this is not a situation where we can afford to go through weeks or months of litigation in this court or that court. There is an urgency here that I think the courts will recognize. I hope that’s not necessary. And I hope that the director of national intelligence will reconsider. Because it’s my understanding that by law, he can provide this to us, and indeed, by law he is required to provide this to us.”

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Schiff added that he would look at “whatever remedies” necessary to access the complaint, including targeting the DNI’s funding.

“We will look at whatever remedies we have including when the director or national intelligence comes to the Congress for authorization to reprogram funds for one purpose or another, we will look to whether he is abiding by the law in making a decision about those requests,” he said.

Schiff has predicted since last week that the whistleblower complaint that’s been hidden from Congress involved President Trump or a top White House or administration official. The panel has been engaged in a tug-of-war with the DNI since it learned of the complaint.

On Thursday, the Washington Post was first to report that Trump was at the center of the complaint. An intelligence community official aware of Trump’s call with a foreign leader was so bothered by a “promise” Trump reportedly made on the call that the official filed a formal complaint with the inspector general.

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