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The acting director of national intelligence is refusing to turn over a whistle-blower complaint in response to a subpoena because he is “answering to a higher authority,” the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said.

While Representative Adam Schiff of California declined to discuss the subject of the complaint in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, he said “it’s fair to assume” it involves President Donald Trump “or people around him or both.”

The House panel issued the subpoena to acting Director Joseph Maguire “to compel the production of a whistle-blower complaint that the Intelligence Community” inspector general “determined to be credible and a matter of urgent concern,”’ the committee said in a statement on Friday night.

“No director of national intelligence has ever refused to turn over a whistle-blower complaint,” Schiff said. “The reason he’s not acting to provide it even though the statute mandates that he do so, is because he is being instructed not to. This involved a higher authority.”

In its statement, the committee said that the complaint “involves confidentially and potentially privileged communications by persons outside the intelligence community” and that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence “refused to rule out that the underlying conduct relates to an area of active investigation by the committee, raising serious concerns that the whistle-blower complaint is being withheld to protect the president or other administration officials.”

Schiff said the committee will “do everything necessary” to ensure that whistle-blowers can come directly to Congress. He said the acting director refusing to comply means people will take the law into their own hands and go directly to the press instead of using the process Congress established to protect classified information.

“And that gravely threatens both our national security as well as a system that encourages people to expose wrongdoing,” Schiff said.

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