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Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN(CNN) - A smoldering Washington intelligence mystery exploded late Wednesday into a full-on confrontation between House Democrats and the White House over communications between President Donald Trump and an unidentified foreign leader. A showdown over a whistleblower's "credible and urgent" complaint was revealed -- first by The Washington Post and later confirmed by CNN -- to concern the President himself, raising new questions about the motivation of the acting director of national intelligence's refusal to reveal details of the case to Congress. The revelations have unleashed a new firestorm in the nation's capital over Trump's perplexing foreign policy dealings and the administration's across-the-board efforts to frustrate Congress' constitutionally authorized role of oversight of the executive branch. But they will also open debate about the extent of the President's powers, which give him expansive latitude in national security. The whistleblower's claims are also certain to bolster the belief among Trump and his supporters that nefarious forces are operating within America's intelligence establishment to undermine him -- a refrain conservatives have used in the wake of the Russian election interference operation. And they will likely further damage the President's trust in America's spy agencies. The Post reported that an official in the American intelligence community was so bothered by a "promise" Trump had made while communicating with a foreign leader that the official filed a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general of the intelligence community, according to two former US officials familiar with the matter. CNN has not confirmed the detail about the "promise." It is unclear to whom Trump was speaking at the time. The President dismissed the reporting on Thursday morning, rhetorically asking if there is "anybody dumb enough to believe" it.
Donald Trump has denied saying anything “inappropriate” to a foreign leader after a Washington Post report, confirmed by other news outlets, revealed that a whistleblower in the US intelligence community filed a formal complaint alleging that the president made a troubling “promise” to that leader. In a series of tweets, Trump said he is aware that US intelligence agents and their foreign counterparts listen to these phone conversations and asked if there was “anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially “heavily populated’ call.” Scalia, son of the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, is facing sharp questions from Democrats who are uneasy with his career as an attorney for corporate clients. Scalia, who was introduced to the committee by Transportation secretary, who was the former labor secretary under president George W Bush (and is the wife of the Senate majority leader) Elaine Chao, said in his opening remarks that his previous work as the department’s top lawyer proved that, once there, he “had new clients, new responsibilities and a public trust.” The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation, opposes his nomination. They have described Scalia as a “union-busting lawyer seeking new opportunities to ruthlessly advance corporate interests”. Democrats have accused Republicans of rushing the confirmation hearing, giving them little time to scour his record. Senator Lamar Alexander, chair of the HELP committee, has defended the decision.
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