WASHINGTON — The acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday morning.
- Acting Director of National Intelligence gives testimony
- Democrats believe memo enough to launch impeachment hearings
- Republicans believe the transcript clears the president
- MORE COVERAGE:
- BELOW: Spectrum News D.C. Reporter Samantha-Jo Roth's tweets from the hearing room
Early in his testimony, Maguire said he knew the whistleblower's complaint was a "serious matter" as soon as he read it and the Inspector General's report about it.
House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff asked Maguire: "Did that conflict of interest concern you?"
Maguire responded that when he saw the complaint, he immediately knew that it was a "serious matter."
The acting intel chief also said he was unfamiliar with any other whistleblower complaint in American history that "touched on such complicated and sensitive issues."
The secret whistleblower complaint at the center of an impeachment inquiry alleges that President Donald Trump abused the power of his office to “solicit interference from a foreign country” in next year’s U.S. election. The White House then tried to “lock down” the information to cover it up, the complaint says.
When asked if he ever spoke with President Trump about the complaint, Maguire said his conversations with the president are privileged because of his DNI status.
“It would be inappropriate for me,” Maguire said. “Because it would destroy my relationship with the president in intelligence matters to divulge any of my conversations with the president of United States.
The 9-page document was released Thursday ahead of Maguire's testimony.
The whistleblower complaint is at least in part related to the July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump prodded Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden. The White House released a rough transcript of that call on Wednesday.
The anonymous whistleblower says that despite his or her not being present for the call, multiple White House officials shared consistent details about it.
Spectrum News D.C. Reporter Samantha-Jo Roth's TWEETS from the hearing room:
The White House made the complaint available to select intelligence committee members Wednesday.
Reactions were split down party lines with most Democrats saying the complaint is deeply troubling. Republicans say the whistleblower cleary had political bias against the president.
"By the White House's own transcript," said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park). "It confirms that the president asked for a favor from a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and I think that that is a stunning revelation."
Everything in the complaint was based on second hand, not first hand knowledge.
Democrats representing Florida in the house call this blatant election intereference, while Republicans say this is an unwarranted political hit job leading in to 2020.
"I think the president wanted to ensure that if there was corruption going on in his government," said Rep. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota). "And if the Ukrainians were involved in somehow involving the 2016 elections that this new president in the Ukraine should investigate that, and they absolutely should investigate that."
It appears likely Democrats would have enough votes to impeach President Trump in the house but the Senate would hold the actual legal proceedings — and in the Senate — Democrats would need to flip more than a dozen Republicans to get a 2/3rds vote.
And that is assuming Republicans in the senate would even take up the issue — which is unlikely.