As American citizens, we have the right to know whether the president has broken the law by allegedly pressuring Ukraine’s president to investigate his potential opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, in the 2020 election. On Aug. 12, an employee of the intelligence community reported a complaint with respect to the president’s communications with Ukraine’s leader. The employee – called a whistleblower – filed the complaint in accordance with 50 U.S. Code § 3033, a statute that provides the legal process for whistleblower reporting.
The whistleblower sent the report to the Inspector General of the intelligence community, who is required by the statute to determine if the urgent concern alleged in the report’s complaint is credible within 14 days of its receipt. After reviewing the report, the IG – a Trump appointee – determined that it did meet the definition of an urgent concern, which is considered to be “a serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of the law of Executive order, or deficiency,” according to the statute. The IG also determined that there were reasonable grounds to believe that information relating to the urgent concern appeared credible.
The IG then forwarded the whistleblower report, along with the determination that the report appeared credible to the acting director of national intelligence. In accordance with the statute mentioned earlier, the acting director is required to forward the whistleblower report to the congressional oversight committees within seven days of receiving the vetted complaint. In this particular case, the acting director did not forward the report as required by the statute; instead, he consulted with the Department of Justice about the complaint.
The DOJ concluded that the whistleblower complaint did not legally qualify as an urgent concern, which means the intelligence community does not have to share it with Congress. Such a conclusion came about even though the statute does not provide the director of national intelligence with discretion to review, appeal, reverse or countermand in any way the IG’s determination. The acting director refused to affirm or deny that officials or lawyers at the White House were involved in the decision to withhold the whistleblower complaint from the congressional oversight committee. So, Congress has not yet received the report in spite of the fact that the statute does not provide the director of national intelligence with discretion to withhold a whistleblower disclosure.
To resolve this situation, Congress should have unfettered access to a full and unabridged copy of the whistleblower complaint. The congressional intelligence committees must then use this information to determine if the president personally sought to harness the power of the United States government to further a politically motivated investigation, involving a foreign government? If true, then this is a clear abuse of power and a betrayal of our country. The only practical remedy is to keep from placing our country into further jeopardy by not re-electing this president to office in 2020. The power of denying him your vote is the ultimate solution for such an intolerable situation.
Jan A. Radder