The intelligence community’s inspector general alerted in a new, previously undisclosed warning that President Trump’s July 25 call with the then newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy potentially exposed him to “serious national security and counter-intelligence risks.”
Michael Atkinson, a Trump appointee and the intelligence community’s inspector general, was concerned that Trump’s phone call violated campaign laws. In the opinion, he warned, “the alleged misconduct by a senior U.S. official to seek foreign assistance to interfere in or influence a federal election could potentially expose the official to serious national security and counter-intelligence risks.”
The warning was included in a Justice Department legal opinion released on Wednesday, which also said the whistleblower had heard from White House officials that Trump had made statements on the call that the whistleblower viewed “as seeking to pressure (Zelenskiy) to take an official action to help the president’s 2020 re-election campaign.”
This opinion is supposed to support acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire’s refusal to send the whistleblower complaint to Congress, which is illegal.
The Washington Post just added some major color to this part of the story, however, with reporting that Maguire “threatened to resign over concerns that the White House might attempt to force him to stonewall Congress when he testifies Thursday about an explosive whistleblower complaint about the president, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the matter.”
“The officials said that Joseph Maguire, who was thrust into the top intelligence post last month, warned the White House that he was not willing to withhold information from Congress, where he is scheduled to testify in open and closed hearings on Thursday.”
Jonathan Landay of Reuters pointed out that while the legal opinion does not spell out the counter-intelligence risks, “former U.S. officials have expressed fears to Reuters that Russian spies could have obtained detailed knowledge of the call before it was made public and used it to gain leverage over the U.S. president.”
The White House released a summary of the call, failing to deliver on Trump’s promise to deliver an unredacted transcript. But even the summary is so bad that it shows Trump pressuring Zelinskiy to investigate unsubstantiated allegations into Democratic front-runner Joe Biden. Which is to say, Trump begged Ukraine to help him cheat in yet another election.
Donald Trump, President of the United States, is putting our national security at risk because he knows he can’t win 2020. This is the very reason why he shouldn’t be president, and why Republicans who are too busy sucking his toes while stabbing the U.S. in the back don’t deserve their seats.
(Additional reporting by Reuters’ Jonathan Landay)
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.