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Office of Legal Counsel Opinion: Urgent Concern Determination by the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Complaint on Ukraine (Kelly Smith, comp.) 1 (9/3/2019)

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(Slip Opinion)


       Urgent Concern Determination by the Inspector
             General of the Intelligence Community

A complaint from an intelligence-community employee about statements made by the
   President during a telephone call with a foreign leader does not involve an urgent
   concern, as defined in 50 U.S.C. § 3033(k)(5)(G), because the alleged conduct does
   not relate to the funding, administration, or operation of an intelligence activity un-
   der the authority of the Director of National Intelligence. As a result, the statute does
   not require the Director to transmit the complaint to the congressional intelligence
   committees.

                                                        September 3, 2019

         MEMORANDUM OPINION FOR THE GENERAL COUNSEL
       OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE*

   On August 26, 2019, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Commu-
nity (ICIG) forwarded to the Acting Director of National Intelligence
(DNI) a complaint from an employee within the intelligence communi-
ty. The complainant alleged that unnamed White House officials had
expressed concern that during a July 25, 2019 phone call, President
Trump had sought to pressure the Ukrainian president to pursue investiga-
tions that might have the effect of assisting the President's re-election bid.
According to the ICIG, such a request could be viewed as soliciting a
foreign campaign contribution in violation of the campaign-finance laws.
See Letter for Joseph Maguire, Acting Director of National Intelligence,
from Michael K. Atkinson, Inspector General of the Intelligence Commu-
nity, at 3 (Aug. 26, 2019) (ICIG Letter). In the ICIG's view, the com-
plaint addresses an urgent concern for purposes of triggering statutory
procedures that require expedited reporting of agency misconduct to the
congressional intelligence committees. Under the applicable statute, if the
ICIG transmits such a complaint to the DNI, the DNI has seven days to
forward it to the intelligence committees. See 50 U.S.C. § 3033(k)(5)(C).


   * Editor's Note: This memorandum was originally issued in classified form on Sep-
tember 3, 2019. An unclassified version was signed on September 24, 2019, and publicly
released in slip-opinion form on September 25, 2019. That unclassified version avoided
references to certain details that remained classified at the time it was signed. After the
underlying documents were themselves declassified, the September 3 memorandum was
declassified in its entirety and publicly released on September 26, 2019.

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