Acting DNI Director Joseph Maguire: Trump, Ukrainian Whistleblower Complaint ‘Hearsay,’ Not ‘Corroborated’
The whistleblower’s account came out this morning.
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday morning.
He answered questions to the best of his ability over the whistleblower report on the phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The House committee released the whistleblower’s unclassified report this morning.
We have to remember that the whistleblower never heard any of the information firsthand and read a few articles. It’s all hearsay. From Fox News:
The complaint cites “multiple White House officials with direct knowledge of the call” and accuses Trump of attempting “to pressure the Ukranian leader to take actions to help the President’s 2020 reelection bid.” It then presents allegations that the White House tried to “restrict access” to records of the call.
“In the days following the phone call, I learned from multiple U.S. officials that senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced–as is customary–by the White House Situation Room,” the complaint says.
The complaint goes on to allege that White House officials said they were “directed” by White House attorneys to remove the transcript of the call from the computer system where they are normally kept. Instead, the transcript was allegedly kept on a different system normally used for classified information.
Trump released the phone call transcript with Zelensky on Wednesday. It showed he did not threaten to withhold aid if Ukraine did not investigate Vice President Joe Biden. It did show he suggested Zelensky investigate Biden.
Zelensky said himself that no one applied pressure to him when it came to Biden.
To no one’s surprise, Chairman Adam Schiff went all drama king, even making up quotes from the phone call transcript. Throughout the hearing, Schiff kept trying to put words into Maguire’s mouth, especially with leading questions.
Maguire almost lost his cool:
But after maintaining his composure for most of the morning, his frustration showed through at the end, when Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., repeatedly pressed him to agree that the matter should be investigated.
Maguire stressed that the committee now has all of the relevant information, including the whistleblower complaint itself that was released publicly Thursday morning, and said it’s up to them to decide how to proceed.
“The horse has left the barn,” Maguire said. “You have all of the information. You have the whistleblower complaint. You have the letter from the ICIG. You have the Office of Legal Counsel opinion and you have the transcript from the president.”
Maguire also acknowledged that the whistleblower’s account is hearsay and no one has corroborated his complaint:
“This is second-hand information. I am not criticizing the whistleblower,” Macguire said. “… I am in no position to tell the committee to do an investigation or not to do an investigation.”
Schiff vowed at the end “we are gonna find out” the backstory, including whether U.S. aid was tied in any way to Trump’s investigation request, which the president denies.
The committee tried to get Maguire to admit to situations that he could not detail like conversations with Trump. It seemed like no one could comprehend why Maguire could not say anything:
Joseph Maguire told several members of the House Intelligence Committee multiple times that his conversations with Trump are “privileged,” as he rebuffed questions about whether he and the president have discussed the whistleblower’s complaint.
Maguire noted that he is a member of the executive branch of the government, and said it “would destroy my relationship with the president in intelligence matters to divulge any of my conversations with the president of the United States.”
Maguire told Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-New York, when asked if he was “denying” that he discussed the complaint with the president, “I speak to the president, and anything I say to the president is confidential.”
The Democrats on the committee tried to put Maguire “on the hot seat” because he did not immediately release the whistleblower complaint to Congress. Again, they could not (or would not) comprehend why it took awhile when it’s quite simple: There is a process (emphasis mine):
Maguire was on the hot seat before the Intelligence Committee because of concerns by Democratic members that he had failed to comply with the law by not turning over that complaint to the committee by a statutory deadline.
Maguire justified his actions by saying, “I was just trying to work through the law the way it was written,” meaning he wanted to determine if the complaint had to be disclosed under the law, and whether there was a possibility that its release to Congress would be blocked because of a claim that its contents were subject to “executive privilege.”
He said he took the complaint to the White House and the Justice Department as part of that review.
“We consulted with the White House Counsel’s Office and we were advised that much of the information in the complaint was, in fact, subject to executive privilege,” Maguire said.
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