Whistleblower complaint: Here’s what we know, don’t know, a timeline

A member of the U.S. intelligence community said a phone call between President Donald Trump and a foreign leader so alarmed them that a “whistleblower” complaint was filed.

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While not much is known for sure, news reports say the complaint involved a “promise” involving Ukraine.

Here’s a look at what we know, what we don’t’ know and what is next.

What happened?

On Aug. 12, a whistleblower filed a complaint with the Office of Intelligence Community Inspector General over a phone call made by Trump to a foreign leader.

Who is the whistleblower?

We do not know the name of the whistleblower or if he or she heard the phone call or read a transcript of the call.

What did the complaint say?

The details of the complaint have not been made public. News reports say it has to do with a promise Trump made to a foreign leader.

What kind of promise?

Again, nothing has been made public. The New York Times is reporting that the complaint is related to Trump and Ukraine and that it involved "multiple actions."

The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump pushed the recently elected Ukrainian President ‎Volodymyr Zelensy, to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter.

Hunter Biden served as an independent director of the Ukrainian gas firm Burisma Holdings Ltd. He has not been accused of legal wrongdoing related to his work for Burisma. He was paid as much as $50,000 per month in some months for his service on the board of the directors, according to The New York Times.

Why hasn’t Congress seen the complaint?

After the member of the intelligence community filed the complaint with the Office of Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson decided the complaint was credible and of “urgent concern.”

An “urgent concern,” according to the Department of Defense inspector general’s website, means "a serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of the law or Executive order, or deficiency relating to the funding, administration, or operation of an intelligence activity within the responsibility and authority of the Director of National Intelligence involving classified information, but does not include differences of opinions concerning public policy matters."

The complaint was forwarded to Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national security.
According to federal law, the DNI is required to send any complaint deemed of urgent concern to congressional intelligence oversight committees within seven days.

Maguire has not shared the complaint with Congress. According to a Washington Post story, Maguire has sent a letter to Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, informing him that he is not required to share the letter because the complaint was not of urgent concern.

Maguire wrote that he does not have to forward the complaint to Congress because it involved “conduct by someone outside the Intelligence Community and did not relate to any ‘intelligence activity within the responsibility and authority of the DNI."

When did this start? When was the complaint filed?

Here is a timeline of the complaint:

  • A complaint was filed Aug. 12 with the office of Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.
  • Aug. 26: Atkinson's office decided the complaint was credible and of "urgent concern." It is forwarded to Maguire.
  • Sept. 2: Maguire misses his seven-day deadline to report a complaint deemed of "urgent concern" to Congress.
  • Sept. 9: Atkinson reported the complaint to congressional intelligence committees.
  • Sept. 10: Schiff requested the full, unredacted complaint and the ICIG's findings. Schiff also asked for records from the office of the director of national intelligence's involvement, "including any and all correspondence with other Executive Branch actors including the White House."
  • Sept. 13: The ODNI declined those requests.
  • Sept. 13: Schiff subpoenaed Maguire to turn over the information. Schiff also said that the ODNI had consulted with the Department of Justice. "The Committee can only conclude, based on this remarkable confluence of factors, that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or administration officials. This raises grave concerns that your office, together with the Department of Justice and possibly the White House, are engaged in an unlawful effort to protect the President and conceal from the Committee information related to his possible "serious or flagrant" misconduct, abuse of power, or violation of law."
  • Sept. 15: Two days later Schiff said his committee was told by Maguire that he was ordered not to turn over the whistleblower's complaint by a "higher authority."
  • Sept. 17: Schiff received notification from the ODNI that the agency had overruled the ICIG and determined the complaint did not meet the definition of "urgent concern" under the law.
  • Sept. 18: Schiff sent a letter to Maguire informing him that the subpoena to appear before his committee on Sept. 19 had been postponed by one week to Sept. 26.
  • Sept. 18: The Washington Post reported that the whistleblower complaint centered on Trump and a phone call he made to a foreign leader. The whistleblower said the call involved a promise Trump made.
  • Sept. 20: The Wall Street Journal reported that two weeks before the complaint was filed, Trump had a phone call with Zelensky and that he repeatedly pushed Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden. The story said that it was not believed that Trump offered anything to the Ukrainian leader in exchange for the investigation.
  • Sept. 21: Trump tweets that the media is not looking into allegations against Biden over the Ukraine issue while again defending his own conversations with Ukraine's president.
  • Sept. 22: Trump tweets on Sunday: "The real story involves Hunter Biden going around the world and collecting large payments from foreign governments and foreign oligarchs."

What is the latest Trump is saying?

On Monday, Trump suggested there could be a link between the review of military aid to Ukraine and his call to persuade the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden.

“It’s very important to talk about corruption. If you don’t talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?”

During the weekend, Trump confirmed a Wall Street Journal report that he discussed Biden with Zelensky in a July phone conversation.

The Journal reported last week that the call included pressure from Trump for the Ukrainian president to work with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on an inquiry into Biden and his son.

Will we see a transcript of the call?

Trump said Sunday he would consider releasing a transcript of a phone call he had with Ukraine’s leader. Members of his Cabinet have said that is not a good idea since the president needs to be able to conduct some aspects of foreign policy in private.

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