Tags: inspector general | ukraine | whistle blower | trump

Intel Community IG Neither 'Investigated' Nor Deemed Complaint 'Credible'

Intel Community IG Neither 'Investigated' Nor Deemed Complaint 'Credible'

U.S. President Donald Trump disembarks after arriving on Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, September 26, 2019, after returning from New York. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

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Friday, 27 September 2019 03:59 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The lead story of today’s Wall Street Journal, under the front page headline “Whistleblower Alleges Coverup: Complaint says Trump tried to sway 2020 election by pushing Ukraine to probe Biden,” misreports both that the whistleblower “alleges coverup,” and that the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (ICIG) “deemed the complaint urgent and credible.”

Aside from the fact that the word “coverup” is nowhere in the complaint released yesterday, the ICIG did not deem the complaint credible. “Appears credible” yes, but not “credible.”

The ICIG, Michael K. Atkinson, in the first paragraph of his August 26, 2019, letter to the Acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, notified the Acting Director that, “I have determined that the Complainant has reported an ‘urgent concern’ that ‘appears credible’.”

In IG parlance, there is a big difference between deeming allegations in a complaint “credible,” and determining that those allegations and related information “appear credible.”

The ICIG placed quotation marks around the expression “appears credible” because those words are from the Intelligence Community Inspector General Act, 50 U.S. Code, Section 3033.

On the fifth page of the same letter, the ICIG cited to and quoted again that statute, as he explained to the Acting Director that, “although the ICIG’s preliminary review identified some indicia of an arguable political bias on the part of the Complainant in favor of a rival political candidate, such evidence did not change my determination that the complaint relating to the urgent concern ‘appears credible,’ particularly given the other information the ICIG obtained during its preliminary review.”

As one of the longest serving Senate-confirmed Inspector General of the Department of Defense (2002-05), I constantly dealt with the distinction between a “preliminary review,” also known as a “preliminary inquiry,” and a full IG investigation. The latter is designed to shed light on truth. The former is only designed to determine whether or not a full investigation is necessary.

This distinction is critical to the obligation every inspector has, codified in Section 4(d) of the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, to report “reasonable grounds to believe there has been as violation of criminal law to the Attorney General: “In carrying out the duties and responsibilities established under this Act, each Inspector General shall report expeditiously to the Attorney General whenever the Inspector General has reasonable grounds to believe there has been a violation of Federal criminal law.”

A preliminary review or inquiry is designed to determine whether or not this statutory threshold has been met. If so, the IG — or another investigative body, e.g., one designated by the Attorney General — does a full investigation in order to substantiate or non-substantiate the allegations.

In other words, the preliminary review by design does not substantiate allegations. In the context of the Intelligence Community Inspector General Act, the preliminary review is designed to “determine whether the complaint or information appears credible. Upon making such a determination, the Inspector General shall transmit to the Director a notice of that determination, together with the complaint or information.” 50 U.S.C. 3033(k)(5)(B).

In his seven-page August 26, 2019, letter to Acting Director Mcguire, ICIG Atkinson cites this statutory provision, and emphasizes that this determination was made during the course of his “preliminary review.”

The ICIG has thus by his own words not “deemed the complaint urgent and credible.” The ICIG has only determined, on the basis of his “preliminary review,” that “the complaint relating to the urgent concern ‘appears credible’.”

Neither the Wall Street Journal nor any other press entity should be suggesting that the whistleblower alleged "coverup" or that the ICIG “deemed the complaint urgent and credible.”

The whistleblower did not allege “coverup,” and the IG did not deem the complaint “credible.”

Joseph E. Schmitz served as a foreign policy and national security advisor to Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. The opinions expressed in this article are his personal opinions. Schmitz served as Inspector General of the Department of Defense from 2002-2005 and is now Chief Legal Officer of Pacem Solutions International. He graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy, earned his J.D. degree from Stanford Law School, and is author of "The Inspector General Handbook: Fraud, Waste, Abuse, and Other Constitutional ‘Enemies, Foreign and Domestic.’" Read more reports from Joseph E. Schmitz — Click Here Now.

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The whistleblower did not allege “coverup,” and the IG did not deem the complaint “credible.”
inspector general, ukraine, whistle blower, trump
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2019-59-27
Friday, 27 September 2019 03:59 PM
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