Still shan’t

The issue of the Acting Director of National Intelligence refusing to hand the whistleblower complaint over to the relevant Congressional committee is still an issue.

On Friday, House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) accused acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire of withholding a “credible” whistleblower complaint — made by someone within the intelligence community — from Congress.

It’s not usual to go public on this kind of thing – and it’s even less usual for a DNI to refuse to deal with the House Intelligence Committee.

Congress appears to have only learned of the whistleblower’s existence after Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson deemed the complaint of “urgent concern” and sent a letter to Congress informing it of the situation.

The allegation could suggest a breach of federal statutes, and Schiff’s decision to publicize the matter suggests the situation is an urgent one.

It seems quite grim – because it’s too much like a coup. Trump is having way too much success stonewalling Congress. He’s not a guy you can trust to do that for sound reasons.

According to Schiff’s letter, the whistleblower first sent a “disclosure intended for Congress” to the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General on Aug. 12.

That triggered a two-week deadline for Atkinson to review and assess the complaint.

At the period’s end — on Aug. 26 — Atkinson purportedly reached his conclusion, finding that the whistleblower had made a credible allegation that met a legal standard of “urgent concern.” He then submitted a copy of the disclosure and “accompanying materials” to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, beginning another seven-day countdown to the deadline for Maguire to forward the information to the congressional intelligence committees.

This is where things get hairy. Schiff alleges that Maguire’s office has withheld the complaint from Congress, disregarding the law.

In other words refusing to obey the law. Breaking the law. Committing a crime.

The intel community watchdog’s letter launched an escalating battle between Schiff and the DNI. One day later, on Sept. 10, House Intel demanded that Maguire produce a full copy of the whistleblower complaint, the inspector general’s evaluation of the complaint, and any communications about the complaint between the national intelligence director’s office and “other Executive Branch actors including the White House.”

Schiff writes that on Friday — Sept. 13 — Maguire replied, denying Schiff’s request. That evening, the Intelligence Committee chair blew open the situation with a public press release, and spent part of Sunday on CBS’s Face The Nation discussing the issue.

Read back. It wasn’t a request, it was a demand – Maguire doesn’t get to refuse.

The situation follows on a brazen strategy by the Trump administration to stonewall congressional subpoenas at virtually every turn, and is playing out as another whistleblower drama — involving potential misconduct in how the IRS is treating Trump’s taxes — unfolds in the shadows.

In other words it’s a slow-moving coup. Trump doesn’t get to “stonewall” congressional subpoenas. He’s carrying on like a dictator, and he has no legal right to do that. He’s succeeding because his allies in Congress are letting him.

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