Whistleblower alleges White House coverup
Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member of the committee, falsely alleged in his opening statement that former vice president Joe Biden boasted of pressuring Ukraine to fire a prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, "Who happened to be investigating Biden's own son."
There is no evidence Biden's son, Hunter Biden, was ever under investigation.
As we explained in this detailed fact check, the investigation was into the business dealings of Mykola Zlochevsky, who owned a natural gas company, Burisma Holdings, for which Hunter Biden had sat on the board of directors.
And it's unclear even if the investigation into Zlochevsky was active at the time Biden applied his pressure on the Ukrainians. Former deputy prosecutor Vitaliy Kasko, who had resigned alleging corruption in the prosecutor's office, told Bloomberg News this year that the investigation had been allowed to become dormant.
Acting DNI Joseph Maguire told lawmakers that his office consulted with the White House counsel after receiving the complaint because calls with foreign leaders usually fall under executive privilege, adding that such privilege was something he did not have the authority to waive.
Maguire also defended the ODNI's initial decision not to hand over the whistleblower complaint because it involved someone who did not fall "under" his supervision or within the intelligence community.
He added that the because of this his office went to the OLC for guidance, which advised that he was not legally bound to provide it to the committee.
During his testimony, the acting spy chief said the case that they're discussing today is "unique and unprecedented" compared to other whistleblower cases he is aware of.
Here was the full exchange:
Maguire: I want to say once again, I believe that the situation we have and why we're here this morning is because this case is unique and unprecedented.
Nunes: So why are cases normally not handled out in the public?
Maguire: All the other cases that came before either this committee or the senate committee, whether or not they met the criteria of urgent concern were forwarded because they involved members of the intelligence community who were, in fact, in organizations underneath the DNI's authority and responsibility. This one just didn't come that way because it involved a member -- an individual who is not a member of the intelligence community or an organization underneath the authority of the DNI. So this one is different from all others in the past that I am aware of.
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire said he has not investigated the truthfulness of the whistleblower's complaint.
He was responding to a question from GOP Rep. Devin Nunes.
Here's how the exchange went down:
Nunes: "I just want to get one thing straight, because one of the quotes they're going to use from you is you saying that this was a credible complaint. That will be used and spun as you're saying that it was true. And I want to give you an opportunity to — you do not — you have not investigated the veracity or the truthfulness of this complaint."
Maguire: "That's correct, ranking member."
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph 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?"
"Mr. Chairman, when I saw this report and complaint, immediately I knew that this was a serious matter," he said.
The Inspector General wrote a report on the whistleblower's complaint.
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire said he believes both the whistleblower who filed the complaint against President Trump and the inspector general who handled it "acted in good faith."
"First, I want to stress I believe the whistle-blower and the inspector general have acted in good faith throughout," he said. "I have every reason to believe that they have done everything by the book and followed the law."
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire said the whistleblower's complaint centered around a phone call between President Trump and a foreign leader — a kind of conversation that is "typically subject to executive privilege."
He said executive privilege is a "privilege that I do not have the authority to wave."
"Because of that, we were unable to immediately share the details of the complaint with this committee," he said.
In his opening remarks, acting spy chief Maguire said he has done his duty and defended the whistleblower.
"I want to make it clear that I have upheld my responsibility to follow the law every step of the way in the matter that is before us today. I want to also state my support for the whistleblower and the rights and the laws."