National Security Lawyer on Trump Whistleblower: 'We're in Uncharted Territory'

In response to the revelations laid out in a Wednesday Washington Post report regarding a whistleblower sounding the alarm about President Donald Trump's communicating an alleged "promise" with an unknown foreign leader, a national security lawyer has characterized the current state of affairs in Washington politics as "uncharted territory."

The whistleblower complaint from an intelligence official was formally made to the inspector general of the Intelligence Community (IC), according to The Post, who determined it was concerning enough to be classified as an "urgent concern" that should allow certain congressional lawmakers to review the complaint. However, the details have not been passed along to members of the House Intelligence Committee at the refusal of acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire.

The New York Times has confirmed the report, adding that the whistleblower complaint is regarding "multiple acts" by Trump, rather than a singular conversation.

"As far as I'm concerned and aware, there has never been a whistleblower complaint brought to the inspector general of the IC that was verified as credible and urgent concern that the [director of national intelligence] has refused to forward on to the relevant intelligence committees," national security attorney Brad Moss said on CNN Thursday. "This is the first time it's involved the president."

"We're in uncharted territory here," he added.

national security lawyer Trump uncharted territory
President Donald Trump speaks on border security during a Rose Garden event at the White House February 15 in Washington, DC. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty

The decision by Maguire to withhold the whistleblower complaint has sparked anger and resulted in legal threats from a top House Democrat. Democrats, along with their GOP colleagues of the Intelligence Committee, attended an hours-long private meeting with Maguire on Thursday. Members leaving the closed-door discussion said the top intelligence chief refused to divulge information from the complaint, arguing that, in coordination with legal opinion from the Justice Department, he's prohibited from doing so by law.

Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Cali.) has argued the opposite, saying that under whistleblower protections, it is the DNI who is violating the law by not disclosing the information to Congress. He accused the White House and the Justice Department of stopping Maguire from doing so.

As a result, Schiff threatened legal action following their meeting with Maguire.

"We are exploring with the House general counsel what our options are. I would imagine if it comes down that we have to go to court to get this, that we will have a very good case to seek a temporary restraining order or some urgent form of relief because the IG has said this cannot wait," he told reporters. "If the assertion is accurate... then at one level or another, it likely involves either the president or people around him."

Due to Trump's likely involvement, it's unlikely that those who drafted the regulations and guidelines surrounding these types of whistleblower complaints anticipated a scenario where the president was the subject of the complaint, Moss explained.

"This is a problem of statutory concepts not envisioning this scenario ever existing in reality," he said. "This is something related to a serious, flagrant violation of law concerning an operation of an intelligence activity. This whistleblower did everything right. They went through the process properly."

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired by Trump last year, also told CNN Thursday that he viewed the information from the whistleblower complaint as "deeply concerning" and "certainly credible."