Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, testified before Congress Thursday about the origins and details of the fast-moving inquiry into President Donald Trump’s interactions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Maguire faced tough questions by Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, over his refusal to hand over a whistle-blower complaint, which was released in a redacted form Thursday morning.
“I want to stress I believe the whistle-blower and the inspector general have acted in good faith throughout,” Maguire testified. “I have every reason to believe that they have done everything by the book and followed the law.”
Here are highlights from the acting intelligence chief’s testimony:
Some members of Congress called the whistle-blower’s report, which alleges Trump used “the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country” ahead of the 2020 election, disturbing and alarming.
The Washington Post reported that Maguire threatened to resign if he wasn’t allowed to speak freely before Congress. Maguire denied ever considering resigning his position.
Maguire’s testimony came as Democrats in the House have opened an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s conversations with Zelensky. According to a summary of the call released on Wednesday, Trump asked Zelensky to “do us a favor” and “look into” former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, a week after blocking security assistance to Ukraine authorized by Congress.
The memo also revealed that Trump urged Zelensky to work with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr to investigate the Bidens.
Here are highlights from Maguire’s testimony:
Under repeated questioning by Rep. Sean Maloney (D., N.Y.), Maguire refused to deny he spoke to Trump about the whistle-blower, which Democrats claim would be an inherent conflict of interest.
Here’s how it played out:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters she thought Maguire “broke the law” by withholding the whistle-blower complaint from Congress.
“I think what the DNI did was broke the law. The law is very clear — the DNI shall convey the complaint to the intelligence committees,” Pelosi said.
She criticized Maguire for going to the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to seek permission to release the whistle-blower complaint to Congress.
Maguire testified he didn’t know whether Giuliani had the proper security clearance to deal with foreign leaders on behalf of the U.S. government.
“We need to ensure that any person who has access to this sensitive information of the United States has been thoroughly vetted to ensure they are able to handle that information,” Maguire said.
Maguire added he was not aware of what Giuliani does for Trump, referring questions about the president’s personal lawyer to the White House.
"My only knowledge of what Mr. Giuliani does — I have to be honest with you — I get from the TV and from the news media,” Maguire said.
Despite claiming his conversations with the president were “privileged,” Maguire told Rep. Jackie Speier (D., Calif.) that he was not ordered by Trump to find out the identity of the whistle-blower.
“Although I would not normally discuss my conversations with the president, I can tell you, emphatically, no," Maguire said.
Rep. Mike Turner (R., Ohio) said he thought Trump’s conversation with Zelensky was “not OK,” but then dismissed the whistle-blower’s complaint as “hearsay.”
“Concerning that conversation, I want to say to the president, this is not OK,” Turner said. “That conversation is not OK. And I think it’s disappointing to the American public when they read the transcript.”
Maguire said he doesn’t know the identity of the whistle-blower who filed the report about Trump’s alleged actions.
“I do not know the identity of the whistle-blower,” Maguire said.
Maguire did not deny that he spoke to Trump about the whistle-blower complaint.
Here’s how the exchange with Rep. Jim Himes (D., Conn.) played out:
Maguire said he thought both the whistle-blower and the inspector general “acted in good faith” in their report on concerns over Trump’s interaction with Ukraine’s president.
“I want to stress I believe the whistle-blower and the inspector general have acted in good faith throughout,” Maguire said. “I have every reason to believe that they have done everything by the book and followed the law.”
Maguire also agreed with Schiff when asked if it was a “sound conclusion” that the complaint was credible.
“That is correct,” Maguire responded.
Maguire told the committee he didn’t initially release the whistle-blower’s report to Congress over executive-privilege concerns, which no longer applied after the White House released a rough transcript of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky on Wednesday.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said “nothing has changed” following the release of the whistle-blower’s complaint.
“Nothing has changed with the release of this complaint, which is nothing more than a collection of thirdhand accounts of events and cobbled-together press clippings — all of which shows nothing improper," Grisham said in a statement to reporters.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in his opening remarks that Trump “betrayed his oath of office” by attempting to obtain dirt on a political opponent from a foreign country ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
“Yesterday, we were presented with the most graphic evidence yet that the president of the United States has betrayed his oath of office, betrayed his oath to defend our national security, and betrayed his oath to defend our Constitution," Schiff said, referring to the whistle-blower’s report.
Minutes before Maguire’s testimony, the House intelligence committee released a redacted version of a whistle-blower complaint that claims the White House attempted to “lock down” records of Trump’s call with Zelensky.
The complaint also alleges that Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country” ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Read the full complaint here: