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Sep 26, 2019

U.S. Politics: Intelligence chief Maguire will testify to Congress about whistleblower complaint

Shane Harris



Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire will testify before House lawmakers this morning about an explosive complaint by a whistleblower from the U.S. intelligence community that helped touch off an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
Maguire has been at the center of the controversy for refusing — on the advice of the Justice Department and the White House Counsel — to hand over the whistleblower’s complaint to Congress for over two weeks since the Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson made its existence known to the heads of the congressional intelligence committees.
The complaint, which was filed in mid-August, centers on Trump and his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and is said to involve other matters that the whistleblower believed were so troubling they should be reported for investigation, according to people familiar with the matter.
On Wednesday, members of the congressional intelligence committees were allowed to read the complaint.
“I found the allegations deeply disturbing,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, where Maguire will testify in an open session.
“I also found them very credible; I can understand why the inspector general found them credible, even without the benefit yet of the inspector general’s full analysis. But the complaint was very well written and certainly provides information for the committee to follow up with other witnesses and documents. So we’re well aware of the work that we have to do.”
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Maguire had threatened to resign over concerns that the White House might attempt to force him to stonewall Congress when he testified, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
The officials said that Maguire, who was thrust into the top intelligence post last month, warned the White House that he was not willing to withhold information from Congress.
Maguire denied that he had contemplated resigning. In a statement, he said that “at no time have I considered resigning my position since assuming this role on Aug. 16, 2019. I have never quit anything in my life, and I am not going to start now. I am committed to leading the Intelligence Community to address the diverse and complex threats facing our nation.”
On Wednesday, the Trump administration released a memorandum detailing a thirty-minute phone call that Trump had with Zelensky. It revealed that Trump told his Ukrainian counterpart to work with Attorney General William P. Barr to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and offered to meet with the foreign leader at the White House after he promised to conduct such an inquiry.
Congress’s efforts to obtain the whistleblower complaint have put Maguire in the middle of a struggle between the legislative and executive branches of government.
The retired admiral, who previously ran the National Counterterrorism Center, has at times expressed his displeasure with the White House counsel and others that he felt put him in an untenable position — denying material to Congress by relying on a claim that the whistleblower’s complaint didn’t fall within the jurisdiction of the director of the intelligence community, according to current and former officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Maguire has been the target of harsh criticism by congressional Democrats for not handing over the complaint, as they and some legal experts have said the law requires.
Officials said that Maguire had been pursuing an opportunity to speak to Congress and defend his actions and integrity.
“I want to make clear that I have upheld my responsibility to follow the law every step of the way,” Maguire said in a statement Tuesday evening.
“I am committed to protecting whistleblowers and ensuring every complaint is handled appropriately,” Maguire added. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Administration and Congress to find a resolution regarding this important matter.”

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