White House

Trump denies ‘inappropriate’ remark to foreign leader that prompted whistleblower complaint

Both intel committees to hear from acting DNI, intel community inspector general

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a joint news conference after their summit in Helsinki, Finland, in July 2018. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump denied reports that he made a promise to an unidentified foreign leader that prompted an intelligence community official to file a formal complaint with an inspector general.

“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 Thursday morning.

Trump’s denial came after The Washington Post reported a member of the intelligence community filed the complaint because the president made a “promise,” as several former officials described it to the newspaper, that individual deemed highly troubling. It has yet to become public what Trump allegedly promised to deliver to the foreign leader.

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The complaint was filed with the IG’s office on Aug. 12. The president had five known telephone conversations with other leaders within the few days before the complaint — including with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump on Thursday called the Post’s article “Another Fake News story out there,” contending 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.”

He declared his handling of classified and highly sensitive information “No problem!”

Americans, however, have different ideas. A recent Associated Press poll found 61 percent of those surveyed disapprove of how the commander in chief is handling foreign policy.

The House Intelligence Committee summoned Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community’s inspector general, to the Capitol for a 9 a.m. hearing, but that session was conducted behind closed doors so members could discuss classified data. The panel will hear from acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire on Sept. 26.

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Maguire, however, so far is refusing to release full information about the complaint and what Trump might have said to lawmakers.

“The IC IG determined that this complaint is both credible and urgent, and that it should be transmitted to Congress under the clear letter of the law,” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-California, said in a Wednesday statement. “The committee places the highest importance on the protection of whistleblowers and their complaints to Congress.”

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Thursday his panel intends to hear next week from Maguire and Atkinson about the whistleblower’s allegations. Warner said he could not discuss the details reported by the Post.

Gopal Ratnam contributed to this report.

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