House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff on Thursday accused the Trump administration of ordering the Justice Department to block a whistleblower complaint about the president from reaching Congress.
"The whole point of the whistleblower statute is not only to encourage those to report problems, abuses, violations of laws, but also to have a legal mechanism to do so and not to disclose classified information -- because there's no other remedy," Schiff told reporters after a closed-door meeting. "That whole purpose is being frustrated here because the Director of National Intelligence has made the unprecedented decision not to share the complaint with Congress."
REP. ADAM SCHIFF: We know that the Department of Justice has been involved in the decision to withhold that information from Congress. We do not know, because we cannot get an answer to the question, about whether the White House is also involved in preventing this information from coming to Congress.
We do not have the complaint.
We do not though whether the press reports are accurate or inaccurate about the contents of that complaint.
But what I do know is this, if in a matter within the jurisdiction of the Director of National Intelligence, an employee or contractor who follows the law and makes a complaint, and it is possible for the subject of that complaint to essentially quash the complaint or keep it from Congress, then this system is badly broken.
Now, I don’t think this is a problem of the law. I think that the law is written very clearly. I think the law is just fine. The problem lies elsewhere. And we’re determined to do everything that we can to determine what this urgent concern is, to make sure that the national security is protected and to make sure that this whistleblower is protected.
Because the impact of this opinion which the Department of Justice has been unwilling to share with us, the impact of this opinion is that if the Department of Justice decides that an employee of the intelligence community comes forward, follows the law, the process, is nonetheless outside the process, they are not protected. Which not only means this whistleblower is not protected, it means no whistleblowers are protected...
In the absence of that whistleblower law, there is no lawful mechanism for an intelligence community employee or contractor to raise a complaint about serious misconduct. The whole point of the whistleblower statute is not only to encourage those to report problems, abuses, violations of laws, but also to have a legal mechanism to do so and not to disclose classified information — because there's no other remedy. That whole purpose is being frustrated here because the Director of National Intelligence has made the unprecedented decision not to share the complaint with Congress...
I would imagine if it comes down that we have to go to court to get this, we will have a very good case to seek a temporary restraining order or … some urgent form of relief because the inspector general has said this cannot wait.
So this is not a situation where we can afford to go through weeks or months of litigation in this court or that court. There is an urgency here that I think the courts will recognize. I hope that’s not necessary. And I hope that the director of national intelligence will reconsider. Because it’s my understanding that by law, he can provide this to us, and indeed, by law he is required to provide this to us...
We will look at whatever remedies we have including when the Director of National Intelligence comes to the Congress for authorization to reprogram funds for one purpose or another, we will look to whether he is abiding by the law in making a decision about those requests.