Whistleblower complaint rocks Congress; Hezbollah terrorist arrested in NJ

President Trump’s communications with foreign leader troubles whistleblower and members of Congress; New Jersey man indicted for sending information to Hezbollah and plotting terrorist attacks.
28:30 | 09/20/19

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Transcript for Whistleblower complaint rocks Congress; Hezbollah terrorist arrested in NJ
Yeah. Happy Thursday welcome to the briefing room coming here from the Washington bureau ABC news I'm John San Suu Kyi thanks for joining us here. On ABC news live a busy busy day here in Washington we're gonna begin. With the story all of Capitol Hill is talking about this bombshell report first in the Washington Post. About a possible whistle blower case involving president trump phone calls. That many are now questioning between president from and a foreign leader was something promise was Ernie compromising information share grand dive into that. All right now so earlier today congressman Adam Schiff he's the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee was re acting to this new report overnight from the Washington Post. We're gonna take a listen of that and bring in to referenced break it down. We do not have the complaint. We do not know whether the press reports are accurate or inaccurate about the contents of that complaint. But what I do know is this. If in a matter within the jurisdiction of the Director of National Intelligence you have an employee of that. Community or contractor do you tell you almost long makes a complaint. And it is possible. For the subject of act complaint. To essentially watch the complaint or keep it from congress. Then this system is badly broken. Adam Schiff speaking to reporters earlier today up on Capitol Hill we're join right now our senior national correspondent Terry Moran and Jack de -- who covers Justice Department. For us gentlemen let let's just diamonds this here's the Washington Post report had which I should note ABC news has not independently confirm they see their whistle blower complaint. Has triggered attention showdown to US intelligence in congress involving president trump. And communications with a foreign leader. The interactions included a promise that was regarded so troubling that it prompted the official to file a whistle blower complaint Terry. We know this is a very unorthodox president we've both covered you now for quite some time. But did fact they. During a phone call conversations on Hussein that's where this happened that he wouldn't meet a promise flight this. It's Linda little good because these phone calls there are multiple people listening someone. Need you happen right could be as we have seen before present term not knowing the rules the road of being a president. As he tweeted out today in response to this story he knows a lot of people listen and he knows a lot of people get the transcripts of calls he's gonna engage in skull don't agree that everybody's watching. But maybe he'd he crossed a boundary didn't know entirely was there the key question is the whistle blower in the so posted advises him was at the white house with access. To either live the transcript of the phone call or some information from it. And there is an act. That can protect whistle blowers in the intelligence community usually a secret remains a secret but this whistle blower thought. What she or he had heard or read that the president had said rose to such a level that they can trigger this whistle blower act. By essentially in us and I'm I've got something. That I must all right they brought into the inspector general of the intelligence community I see IG. And yes yes you create this we have an urgent matter here of a flagrant problem and the next step was to notify congress but. The director of national thousands that whole weight. This may not involved somebody in our purview her in the spray but. Maybe above us or outside of the intelligence community and Dave went to the Justice Department and the Justice Department provided an opinion to them. Basically confirming that that. Hey this is not covered here are we can't. Disclose this to congress were were prevented from doing it so now this complaint is stuck and it stuck in the gap between. The inspector general who has the statutory. Brilliant duty to report this to congress. And the. And is decreasing your arms for an director of national Intel reckons there but now. Talk about Jack what powers congress does have now because ships committee said they are fully know look into this so. They've been stonewalled repeatedly by the trump administration could they actually. Get access to this whistle blowers complaint or is a little more tricky bids. Very tricky because they're part of the statute that say some of this is not subject to judicial review meaning the courts will be able to sell it if they try to subpoena it. It can. You know it's it's very trip to the president most turbulent two has broad authority he's head of state he can have conversations. And make policy that's his job that's what he's elected to do in so. You don't. If it's that difference of opinion right it won't matter but it appears based on somebody's communications from. The inspector general that it's not an issue of a difference of opinion that that that it fell under this flagrant violation part of us that you. Consistency is just that second part of the statute it's not under the DNI. That is it that is a hitch. A cemetery we know so far congress is not afraid to go to the courts to challenge the drug administration so on this one what. Ease their legal walker to actually try to get something well it's it's very tricky legal cases as Jack points out. So under this is under this law. Once a whistle blower comes in says the inspector general something went wrong here it secretly but it's wrong thing and unlawful secret if you will and we have to open it up because something's gone wrong. If the inspector general says this is flagrant and urgent and the next step under the law and it's got to go to congress which is the public Cass avenue public representatives have to have access to it. The problem that is. The president may be literally above that law and runs the intelligence operation. So congress can take it to the courts I think Jack is actually were and yet here Toyota way. Yeah national whistleblower case. That Witt the Director of National Intelligence is supposed to provide a pathway. For the complaint and the purse the whistle Lawrence now to be able to contact congress but in this case they said well wait a minute this doesn't fall under. What's urgent so we're not gonna give you a path way to do it. It is. Like they have to authorize that complained to go to congress and they're not doing it. It's funny I was just remembering sounding pretty on the spot here Jack but. One the other one and only once I think come with whistle blower cases visibly with the trunk administration once the complaint. But a whistle blower filed against Jared Kushner and John Kelly were running security clearances now we know there were initial hearings on that but. I can't think of any recent activity it's happened with that on Capitol Hill so it does seem like the stonewalling here for the most part. Could be effective because that's another whistle blower case that came forward there were letters from congress thing you've got to step up got to do something. We haven't heard anything about that for months since ending February or march from them. Stay right but you're talking people who're intelligence community professionals. It today they're very concerned that this could have lasting damage if this isn't handled. Very careful can be kissed. That the lasting damage could come you'll presence need to be able to have candid conversations with other world leaders he seems prevent wars these these are very serious matters in the president's. Can't do that with the confidence that their staffs in the post's Peter barge is gonna support them with good intelligence and with their loyalty. It at least in terms of you know the the operation of the government and I you know this is a concern that could carry on many many years if this is handled just right. But the challenge that this case seems to present is one of the president does something wrong. In those costs what are the what are the president does something to harm the interest of the country that is apparently the allegation under suspicion of the whistle blower. And there is a process for the whistle blower to get that before congress. That stymied right now so it's a tough situation. What we are is it is that you chiefs Conley was really really who lit up by the inspector general. Because they said you know change can be you have other avenues at your disposal other than trying to publish information from your memos burned in New York Times but. This is showing what the strains are on those other avenues now that it there's not clear pass and it's really complicated when you do with the. President yet and that's and this is going to be a story we're very seeing more reports coming out there today we're still working to confirm parts of it. The new warmer going to be tracking for a while turning her and Jack dot T thank you very much you can read much more about this right now up online abcnews.com. We'll have more on this story tonight on ABC's world. Tonight David you were switching gears though we are learning about some breaking news coming in to ABC news right now a New Jersey man was just arrest on federal charges. Related to actually looking at spots around the new York New Jersey area. Potentially to carry out a terrorist plot want to bring an ABC's Aaron could terse keys in New York for us. But just learning about this one along with us Aaron what do we know right now the man's name is Alexi tsunamis and. His forties and he has. Someone who federal prosecutors say John. Joined Hezbollah back in 2000 actually. Took training from Hezbollah in assorted weapons carried out various operations. On behalf of Hezbollah in Lebanon including the observation and reporting on the movements of Israeli soldiers. And then in 2005. He ended up applying for American citizenship he had come here several years prior. Asked to become an American citizen that citizenship was finally granted in 2008 but his loyalties were allegedly divided. The FBI said that he continued his allegiance to Hezbollah and actively scouted locations here in New York City in Washington DC Boston. And other locations in the United States for a possible attack. And it is interesting that this is coming up now John as the United States it is locked in a diplomatic and and perhaps military conflict. We've Iran. As follows its proxy and in Lebanon. And so this does raise an extra alarm. And Aaron did just to refresh folks memory at home I mean it is rare. That we hurting like this in quite some time and when was the last putting on the spot here Aaron but when was one of the last. Com arrest alike this that we learn and so was actually looking in scouting locations to carry out a terrorist attack ended. Have been a number of terror cases that have been brought in in recent months around here but but to have active. Surveillance like this on on various spots it's it's been a couple years I think and the criminal complaint included photographs of some of the locations. Various bridges and tunnels connecting. New York City would the New York City boroughs there were some landmarks that that you would expect the Empire State Building the statue of liberty. UN headquarters on the eve of the UN general assembly. And there were other photographs of other landmarks in other cities the Prudential Tower. In Boston for example right now Saab is charged with providing material support to terrorism. And other offenses that could get him. The foot up to what would amount to life in prison. Erica terrorist he just Arenas in new York and that's thank you Aaron we're gonna keep reading through that will have the latest. Up online abcnews.com. As we track that developing story meantime switching gears here in the briefing room here is being in this ongoing debate you've heard it I've heard it about what's going on with. To black band of those favored. Are now teaming up with a new legislation it's called it quits acts quell underage inhaling of toxic substances. I spoke to representatives Tom swazi and Peter king of New York earlier about their new bill. Take a listen to that conversation congressman swazi let me start with you because the CDC. Released its latest numbers they've now recognized six jets tied to these. Those numbers still not finalized but what are you hearing sore from your constituents on Long Island. You know we've fought for years against smoking in New York State in fact. We after decades of knowing there's a problem. And now you can see the exact same thing happened with the state thing as a becomes more more of an epidemic with young kids smoked all the time we have a sixteen year old son at home Michael. This kid is talking about people making all the time it's a it's it's a very common thing. All over Long Island. And congressman king let me bring you into the conversation. You and congressman swazi our neighbors a difference being though you are Republican he's a Democrat. Do you think we could actually see some support for your new build equates act by president trump. I would hope it is huge not because it's stopped making powers how you can. Great news anything. I think it's. We have many more. So I hear all the time from parents or my district. From kids who they thought didn't smoke or all the kids don't think there's smoke and give anything they don't realize that in many ways maybe more dangers of smoking and it really has an impact on young brain and the young monks. If you talk to young he didn't. They'll say you know you asked what do you think it's not all smoking's bad for you what about anything oh no there's nothing wrong with anything it's just. Moisture. Added but I don't realize how dangerous it is to actually be making because of not only connected team in the addictive effects but all the other stuff that's in there. And it's interesting that you say that because you just today is your new bill Bible the view is just introduced. We sort of full page had taken out by Jules they're obviously the company that is out most well known when it comes easy cigarettes. But in this full page ad we haven't read showed up on screen. Not eat obviously first says that nicotine is addictive it is not seat but then it goes on to say that is smoke or their identifying. Who it's not for eighteen years switched to the jewel. And make the switch it you know their advertising campaign. Still aggressive no no and recognizing that there are addictions to their product but still. Did trying to convince people hey it's still something you should try. No they don't go all. The same way the tobacco companies did use or abuse. I'll almost remember when they acted in doctor's uniform going on in the menthol cigarettes we had a long. But to good health you can smoke. Menthol flavored cigarettes those saves and we've been I would drool this is wrong and certainly at the very least everyone can agree that this should be a complete ban. Until the FDA does a full analysis she's you all look. To make sure what impact as I am convinced the impact going to be bad but for anyone to say that message read I'm out is irresponsible tomorrow. And that was the same thing tobacco industry poll they said for years and years well science is not conclusive yet we don't really know yet we're not really sure. We have to ban the we should make it more expensive to make in the first place because we saw in New York State that is the price went up the people number of people smoke and went down and the cancer rates went down. And we should spend more money. On actually getting people is put. Smoking in the first place and predicting the first place at. And congressman's body let me ask you some assuming this was your part of the bill being here on the Ways and Means Committee was that part of the reason sir that you felt including a federal tax. On. Yeah I was account executive at NASA's Kennedy and 2002 to 2009 that's what Mike Bloomberg in New York City did so much good work on this issue along with the governor of the time in the New York State Legislature. And they said. If we increase the price less people smoke and that poses especially true in the case of kids because kids don't have that price elasticity. We don't want kids they think we don't want to see another epidemic of addiction. Related to making the same as we saw with cigarettes before we discards we need to discourage smoking the number one cause of preventable it that's the United States of America. And we need to stop this epidemic among teenagers in its tracks. Thank you congressman swazi yanking much appreciate you can learn more about their bill we have a full write up on an online abcnews.com. Right now but before we leave this topic. Let's get a quick fact check I want to bring in a member or ABC news medical unit where Jordan right now by doctor tells C Patel who is in our New York studio doctor Patel. Real quickly what is the latest guidance from the CDC when it comes to these. So Don the CDC had a press briefing this morning and there's two major takeaways to take from that briefing that they had the first is that they provided us with more information and details about who's affected. They shared at that. They have bet there have been 530 cases. Eight related illnesses in 38 states and one US territory and they also shared about there's been seven deaths related to date use. The second thing that they mention is that they actually want to encourage the public to get involved in the investigation. The CDC and the FDA are recommending that people speak with their doctors and get involved in serving so that we have more information. And of course those surveys would be reporting to your doctor if you're using them. Is there any guy who's though as far as the age span of the CDC's seeing about. Consumption of easy cigarettes sure they found the majority of the individuals have been affected by these illnesses are actually under the age of 25 an hour mostly men. Very interesting doctor Patel in our New York City a thank you so much doctor we appreciate it. We're gonna go overseas now with the briefing room we are watching that tense elections over and Israel it is a tough race right now between prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the challenger Benny Ganske is the head of the center left. Blue and white party the results are still tight the latest we've seen is against is leading the those polling results which obviously would not be good news for Benjamin Netanyahu I wanna bringing Gil Hoffman he is the chief political reporter with the Jerusalem Post is pinning guest on this program before Gil great to have you with those I know it's pretty late there in Israel so I do appreciate it. What is the latest right now on the election results. In his job as a result is still made that we hadn't Tuesday night when the election results. Started coming in and we still don't know who the prime minister's going to be a it's a little bit more complicated in America -- only to messed up political parties. Here we have nine which is record low. My hand and then to get their act together and find that a majority out of 120 seats in the parliament. Someone has to zero have to go through this again go to third election under a year which should be held for everybody in the country except the political correspondent it would funds are. I'm gonna say guilty need help I'll come over and join you actually it sounds like a little bit of fun but talk to me about the latest developments so we're reading your reporting and others. It sounds like prime minister Netanyahu has reached out against to try to sort this out CP can come to a compromise government. But cancer buff that after it. You know that he was doing that and as a middle kind of way you don't have the loser reach out to the winner. Which is really what Netanyahu is trying to do ands or against it and forget it I'm forming the government that I I don't know what is gonna come to you. But it doesn't really work that way it is that president. The other parties go and meet with the president which is normally symbolic ceremonial role. But not a bitter powerful mayor the president has little room and Rivlin this consultations are gonna begin on Sunday. Bar you Wednesday next week. He's going to appoint someone to form a government. And it. Easier points guess first project think it's more likely is no guarantee that gas could form a government. You don't give Netanyahu or cancer or government he probably fail to. You my head of having another election enough for the whole country only insider Likud Party to elect the successes and as in the out. Now than there you go hey let me ask you this skill because one of the things that armament less time you run with me we were talking about. Is is the impact of president trump in this election obviously the president outweighs tweeting on it Benjamin Netanyahu's behalf. You were describing to me last time out full page ads and posters. That Bibi was taking out new pictures of him. Up with president trump what were you hearing. Up from voters about that was their impact on that relationship. That mean then more likely to support. The prime minister or to vote against him. John has surprisingly Eric is a little counter intuitive. To keep in mind that Israel is one of the countries in the world and has the highest approval rating for Donald Trump. And they actually believe he did not do enough. For Netanyahu. Daryn that all the talk about everybody coming to of the UN meeting was trump on the sidelines there. Is something and maybe show the relationship between Netanyahu and job isn't as close it used to be maybe Netanyahu nuts and indispensable because of that. The last election. Child delivered to Israel recognizing control over the Golan Heights this time he didn't really give anything new. And so people are started doubt that's again. Very interest saying I'm not your right you do throw me a curve ball they're Gilliam kinda surprised Gil Hoffman. Chief political correspondent for the Jerusalem Post you can read all his great reporting online any guilt honestly if you want help I'll I'll come take a visit to a third election no problem. Anything is easier than what you got coming up a return America don't he truer words never spoke and thank you very much skill you've agreed dec. Switching gears here in the briefing room. I mean let's be honest he's right when he twenties going to be a lot of fun. But we are gonna switch gears because I'm our colleagues at Nightline have been working very hard. On immigration crisis we are still seen down up on the southern border will caricatures he's gonna join us again this segment because he spoke to the nation's. Top immigration enforcement official and he actually scolded lawmakers for their heated political rhetoric he's saying everyone including president trump. Quote needs to take a deep breath caricatures Q what did you learn. Well we talked would would Mathieu all of us the acting director of immigration and customs enforcement John Anne and he was concerned about the impact of the rhetoric and and he noted the temperature. Of the national debate over immigration and he said. The politicians need to tone it down an admonition that could apply to critics of the administration's policies. And probably could apply to the president himself as his administration has taken a hard line off on immigration enforcement. His concern Altman's is concerned he is on the impact to be immigration officers who are carrying out the policy and whether they are. In increased danger. Because of all the rhetoric take a listen to our conversation. How are you finding the political climate it's impacting the work of your agent. And I don't its impact in the work but I think what it's doing is creating a situation where that work is becoming more dangerous. You continuing politicians and media bill finding swarmed federal law forced officers that are doing their patriotic duty in. Many of our officers were or our military veterans and their. A third of our workforce of veterans they were heroes before the universe put on that. And they're forcing these laws to the best of their ability. But when you have people going out there knowing full well. That we don't run concentration camps that ice doesn't put kids in cages. That we're not Nazis. Enforcing a law and an order signed by a federal judge on it's those kind that that's kind of language and that kind of writer. That results. In people. Who may not be a vote of sound mind doing things like. Shooting bullets into a nice facility in San Antonio Texas almost hitting one of my agents or trying to blow the detention facility. And hurt the individuals are there working in those facilities as well the Decatur contained therein. It'd be much more useful. And what might want Michael stresses. Is to put the facts out there. He wants the tax out there I asked him about in addition to that the fear among the safety of for the safety of law enforcement officers about the fear. In immigrant communities because of the aggressive approach and he says ice consistently nine out of ten times goes after. Undocumented immigrants with criminal records to us. Caricatures he in New York thank you Aaron and Nightline is gonna have much more tonight on their ongoing series on the border I'm joined right now by Nightline producer now CO tourists who spent over a year. Down on the border tracking niece Teresa Ignacio. On ten ninths edition of Nightline were actually gonna see series that you actually embedded. With one of the sheriff's down there one of the largest counties along the border what are you in the team find. That's correct that we as you heard earlier in the rhetoric we've hurt the national rhetoric go in one direction but we really wanted to see specifically. What the people that are living in these counties feel it whether that rhetoric is in fact the reality that their living. And for instance here's short clip of one of the sergeants that we embedded with. Different go. I'm could tip. Cover that's so they're still meeting. Right now with the unit watching they believe his stash house. They see something that looks like there's some smuggling going would go train stopped vehicles. Talking. Anyway you can think of smuggling narcotics in this country has its been done. It will pay people to bring this stuff up it's quick money. Sometimes. You know there's elderly people are doing younger people. Different nationalities. Different citizenship so. She's whoever they can contact and talk into it and exploit. I mean we funny any warning include radiators. Fake battery compartments fake flooring. They'll take everything out of the vehicle put in a fake floor. Meanwhile the pain it puts carpet back over and put the seats back on and it's very very difficult to find they're very ability do you. I don't want to downplay narcotics and how it destroys our community. But his it is a game it's it to chess game between us and them and we have to think always 23 moves ahead all the time. Has he saw that sergeant Heller Kerr and he set the front lines a lot of the times and drugs. Are a daily occurrence and has county Pima County in particular this is the largest county that's touching. The US southern border. And he tells us as he just said. Who's doing it who's bringing these drugs. Tends to range from different nationalities different age it's in organized crime and that the end of the day. As he explains the majority of the drugs that are coming into his county are actually coming from legal court and tree. It's in these legal ports of entries that we also meet. A couple asylum seekers in one case help father son DO now we follow from the nine dollars port of entry that enters into their county. All the way to Kansas City now and tonight you'll get a little gleam self. How these two different issues the issues of immigration and the issues of drug imports when. Sometimes collide but sometimes are very different from one another and has Republican chair of who we spoke with that we'll tell you. They need to be seen separately. But together when when you beat. They now see a Taurus with Nightline thank you sir you can catching now see on the team is great reporting tonight on Nightline. And we always replay that right here on ABC news life quickly before we leave you today. Alluded celebration here in Washington the Washington monument reopened today. Finally after three years First Lady Gilani a trump on hand to cut the ribbon. Exciting news Greta brings our folks in New York come down and toward that with us that is gonna do it for us in the briefing room today thank you so much for joining us on this Thursday I'm John Santee chief major download BBC news out for any news any time you are watching ABC news.

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