Trump’s ‘promise’ to foreign leader triggers showdown in U.S. government

A conversation between the U.S. President Donald Trump and a foreign leader triggered a whistleblower complaint that led to a dispute between the director of national intelligence and the U.S. Congress, The Washington Post reported on Thursday, citing anonymous U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

According to two former U.S. officials, an official in the U.S. intelligence community was so disturbed by a "promise" Trump made to a foreign leader that the official filed an official whistleblower complaint with the inspector general of the intelligence community, The Washington Post said.

But the sources did not disclose the detail about the "promise" made or the identity of the foreign leader.

The U.S. daily listed several possible foreign leaders with whom Trump had had conversations in the recent weeks, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the prime minister of Pakistan, the prime minister of the Netherlands and the emir of Qatar.

However, the frequent phone talks between Trump and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over Ankara's purchase of Russian S-400 missile systems, leave the possibility open that Erdoğan is the foreign leader in question. Both leaders had a phone call on May 29, and a day later Turkish officials speaking to press claimed that they agreed to create a working group with regards to the S-400 purchase from the Russian government. Pentagon denied such agreement afterwards.

There is bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress to take punitive measures against Turkey since Washington maintains that Russian missile systems expose NATO defence systems, notably the F-35 fighter jets, to possible Russian subterfuge.

But Erdoğan has repeatedly said the U.S. President told him there would be no economic sanctions for Ankara’s purchase of Russian missiles since Trump would seek to cancel or mitigate measures against Turkey.