tv At This Hour With Kate Bolduan CNN September 26, 2019 8:00am-9:00am PDT
>> thank you for being here. we appreciate your life of public service. my question relates to prior to the transmission on the 26th, were there any conversations that you had with the ig prior to august 26th related to this matter? >> congresswoman, there's been a lot that's happened in the last several weeks. as far as the timeline is concerned, i think that -- i'd like to take that and get back to you and give you a full chronology, if i may, on the actual timeline of events. >> that will be very helpful to this committee in terms of if there were any preliminary conversations what was discussed and if there was any action taken as a result of those conversations. i want to turn to the complaint itself which has been made public for the american public to read. let me preface this by saying i greatly appreciate your statement that you believe the whistle-blower is operating in
good faith. on page 1, the complaint reads, quote, i was not the direct witness to most of the events described. this seems like a very important line. my question to you is, for the record, did the ig fully investigate the allegations into this complaint at this time? >> i believe the intelligence community inspector general did a thorough investigation in the 14-day time frame that he had and under that time frame made the determination that it was both credible and urgent. i have no reason to doubt that michael atkinson did anything but his job. >> sure. so when you talk about a full
investigation, were the veracity and the allegations of the complaint looked into, there were many references to white house officials. do you know if the ig spoke with those individuals, douj if he investigated the truthfulness of these allegations or was it a preliminary investigation? >> i'd have to defer to the ig to respond to you on that. but although i do not know the identity of the whistle-blower, i do know that michael atkinson had, in fact, you know, discussed this with the whistle-blower and found his complaint to be credible. as far as who else he spoke with, i am unaware of what went into michael atkinson's investigation in this matter. >> as of today, the only individual we know the ig spoke with is the complainant, is the author and the whistle-blower. >> what i'm saying is i am unaware of who else michael
atkinson may have spoken to. i'm unfamiliar with his investigative process and everybody that he spoke to in this regard. >> thank you for the answer on the record. again, for the american public, they're going to have many questions as they read this complaint today. and because on page one it says no direct knowledge, i think it's very important that we conduct our -- that we have questions answered for individuals that do have direct knowledge. and with that, i yield back. >> thank you, congressman. >> thank you. mr. mcguire, do you agree that the definition of a cover up is an attempt to prevent people from discovering a crime? >> i would say that's close. i don't disagree with that, sir. >> and in the whistle monther's complaint, the whistle-blower acknowledges that immediately after white house lawyers moved quickly to direct white house officials to move electronic
transcripts from one computer system where it was normally stored to a secret classified information system. is that right? congresswoman -- >> excuse me, i apologize. >> is that what was alleged, yes or no? >> sir, all i know is that that is the allegation. >> that's what i'm asking you. that's what was alleged. >> that's what's alleged. >> and the first people you go to are the white house lawyers who are telling the white house officials who see this transcript and move it into a secret apartmentalized system, those are the first people you go to? >> let's say a couple of things. >> is that yes or no? >> yes, but that's -- >> i'm going to scene going here. so you get this complaint. the inspector general says urgent, credible. you have no wiggle room to not go to congress, and instead you send your concern to the subject of the complaint, the white house. so did the white house tell you after you sent your concern
about privilege, did they tell you to go to the department of justice next? >> my team, my counsel went to the office of legal counsel. >> so -- and we were not directed to do that. >> and you said this did not involve ongoing intelligent. however, the whistle blower said this is not the first time that the president's transcripts with foreign leaders were improperly moved to another system. is that part of the allegation? >> i believe that's in the letter and i will let the letter speak for itself, sir. >> what can also speak for itself is if a transcript of the foreign leader is improperly moved to an intelligence community classification system, that would involve your responsibilities, is that right? >> not necessarily.
it is not underneath my authority and my responsibility. this is an allegation that has been made, does not necessarily mean that that is a true statement. >> and the allegation was determined to be urnlths and credible by the inspector general. was it not? >> yes, it was. >> transcripts are being moved into a secret intelligence system, whether other transcripts, perhaps maybe the president's phone calls with vladimir putin, with mds of saudi arabia or erdogan of turkey or kim jong-un, would you want to know if those are being improperly moved because the president is trying to cover up something? >> congressman, the national security counsel, how they conduct their business is their business. >> it's your business to protect america's secrets. is that correct?
>> congressman, there is an allegation of a cover up. i'm sure an investigation and before this committee might lend credence or disprove that, but right now, all we have is an allegation with second hand information from a whistle-blower. i have no knowledge on whether or not that is true and accurate statement. >> the department of justice opinion you relied upon said that you were not responsible for preventing foreign election interference. is that right? that was in the opinion. >> what the office of legal counsel did is over 11 pages, defining and explaining their justification for it not complying with -- >> are you responsible for preventing election interference? >> election interference -- >> by a foreign government. >> congressman, election interference -- >> i hope you know this answer is yes or no. >> are you responsible for preventing election interference? >> election interference is -- i really hope you know the answer.
>> it's a priority of the intelligence community. >> is it your priority, though? >> yes, it is. >> so this complaint alleges a shakedown of the foreign government by the united states president involving a rogue actor who has no clearance, no authority under the united states and an effort. >> i believe election security is my most fault priority. however, this focused on a can conversation with the president by another foreign leader, not election security. >> i yield back. thank you. >> thank you, congressman. >> and if that conversation involved the president requesting help in the form of intervention in our election, is that not an issue of interference in our election? >> chairman, once again, this was sent to the federal bureau of investigation --
>> i understand that. but you're not suggesting, are you, that the president is somehow immune from the laws that preclude the u.s. person from seeking foreign help in a u.s. election. are you? >> what i am saying, chairman schiff, is that no one, none of us is above the law in this country. >> thank you, chairman. it's a pleasure to be here with you. i tell all my friends all the time that i've gotten more surveillance as a member of congress than i did as an undercover officer in the cia and i think you've gotten more arrows shot at you since you've been with dni then in your almost four decades within the battlefield. a specific question, the letter that's contain in the whistle-blower package is actually dated august 12th. and the and i recognize this may be a better question to be asking the icig. that letter is dated august 12th and it's to the chairman of the senate select committee on intelligence and to the chairman of this committee. do you know if the
whistle-blower provided that letter to those two chairmen concurrently with the icig? >> no, congressman. as i said earlier, i believe that the whistle-blower and the icig acted in good faith and followed the step of the law every step of the way. >> we've talked about the way the law on the whistle-blower statute is -- says usually share if it's decided to be an urgent concern. however, best practices has always been to share regardless of that urgent concern. do you see any reason a negative impact on the intelligence community if that legislation was changed to say all whistle-blower complaints should be shared with the committees? >> that is correct sxp nood that, congressman, let's just say the allegation was made against a member of this committee. i'd -- you know, members of this committee, although you are on the intelligence committee, are
not members of the intelligence community. and as the dni, i have no authority or responsibility over this committee. >> but my question is do you think that if every whistle-blower complaint that was brought to the intelligence community inspector general was always shared with this committee, would that have any impact on intelligence equities? and i ask that because yonl why when the statute was written that it didn't say all should be shared rather than only urgent concern. and my question to you as the head of the intelligence community, do you think if we change that law, would it have impact on the intelligence communities? >> i don't think that a law can be changed to cover all things that might possible happen. i think we have a good law. i think it is well written. however, as i say, this is unprecedented. that's why we're sitting here this morning. >> sure. and i hope we're not in this position again. however, we do find others in
this position again, i want to make sure there is no uncertainty. was the odni under a decision to suspend ukrainian aid as was alleged in this complaint? >> as far as i'm concerned permanently, congressman, no, i have no knowledge of that and i am unaware if anybody within the oti is aware of that. i don't know the answer to that. >> when the -- and i apologize for a lot of these legal questions that may be best directed at somebody else, but i feel like you have a perspective. when does olc, office of legislative leg counsel guidance override laws passed by congress? >> the office of legal congress does not override laws passed by
congress. it passes legal opinion for those of us in the executive branch. and the office of legal counsel legal opinion is binding to everyone within the executive branch. >> good copy. and i have two final questions. i'm going to ask you together to give you the time to answer in both. what is your assessment of how intelligence operations in general are going to be impacted by this latest episode? and when i say episode, i'm referring to the media circus, the political circus, the technical issues that are related to this whistle-blower revelation. you alauded to it in some of your previous questions, but i would like your assessment in how this would impact intelligence operations in the future. and i believe this is your first time testifying to congress in your position, right? and i would welcome you in -- i know this is a little off topic, what do you see our greatest challenges and threats to our country as the director of national intelligence?
>> well, i -- let me answer the latter part of that. i think that the greatest challenge that we face is not necessarily, you know, from a strike with russia or china or iran or north korea. i think the greatest challenge that we do have is to make sure that we maintain the intelligenceintegrity of our election system. we know there are foreign powers trying to get us to question the validity of whether or not our elections are valid. so first and foremost, i think protecting the sanitity of offer elections, whether it be national, city, state and local is perhaps the most important job we have with the intelligence community. outside of that, we face significant threats. number one is cyber. we talk about whether or not the great competition is taking place with russia and china and we are, you know, building ships and weapons to do that.
but in my estimation, a great competition is taking place now. >> my time is i think running out, but the broader implications on intelligence operations of this current whistle-blower situation. >> i will tell you, in light of this, i clearly have a lot of work as the leader of this community to do to reassure that the intelligence community that, in fact, we are totally committed to the whistle-blower program. and i am absolutely, absolutely committed to protecting the anonymity of this individual as well as to making sure that michael atkinson who is our icig continues to be able to do his job unveted. but i think with that, i certainly have to be proactive in my communications with my team. >> mr. chairman, i yield back the time. >> thank you. >> thank you, chairman. thank you, director mcguire for
your testimony today. i want to say thank you, also, to the whistle-blower for having the courage and the bravery to come forward on behalf of the nation. thank you to mr. atkinson, also the inspector general for his courage in coming forward to congress. you mentioned that you believe that the whistle-blower's report is credible, that the whistle-blower is credible, that the whistle-blower acted in good faith. you've had a chance now, as we have and i believe the american people have, had an opportunity to review the whistle-blower complaint and the transcript released of the phone call between the president of the united states and the president of ukraine. you've read both documents by now, haven't you? >> yes, congressman. >> would you say that the whistle-blower's complaint is remarkably consistent with the transcript released? >> i would say that the whistle-blower's complaint is in alignment with what was released yesterday by the president. >> okay. i want to read you a quick section of both to underscore exactly how accurate and
consistent this complaint is. on page two of the whistle mo h blower's complaint, it says according to individuals who had direct knowledge of the call, the president pressured mr. squaw lentz zalinski to initiate or continue an investigation into the activities of former vice president joseph biden and his son hunter biden and a third bullet point meet or speak with two people the president named explicitly as his personal envoys on these matters. mr. giuliani and attorney general barr to whom the president referred multiple times in tandem. in the transcription release dollars on page 4 in what looks like the third sentence, president trump says the former ambassador for the united states, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the ukraine were bad
news. so i just want to let you know that. the other thing, there's a lot of talk about biden's son, that biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that. so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, etcetera. do you have reason to doubt what the whistle-blower has brought forward? >> getting back into michael atkinson's determination on whether or not it was credible or urgent concern, at the dni, it is not my place to ensure it is credible. that is the icig's job. my only trouble was that, in fact, it involved someone who is not in the intelligence community or in an organization under which i have authority and responsibility. >> but director mcguire, you
agree that it involved intelligence matters, it involved election interference, it involved investigation of u.s. persons, including a former vice president. if you had knowledge or the cia had knowledge that a government was going to investigated or drum up an investigation against a former vice president, would that not -- that would qualify as an intelligence matter? would that qualify as an intelligence matter, yes or no? >> well, that's kind of a hypothetical question, sir. >> i don't think it's hypothetical. that's exactly what's in the transcript. that's what he's asking for. >> what the complaint -- >> but that's what the president is asking the president of ukraine to do. he's asking the president of the ukraine to investigate a former vice president of the united states. does that qualify as an intelligence matter that the cia would want to know? >> the conversation by the president to the president of ukraine, as you know, and it is -- i am not.
>> i understand that cannot be an ultimate shield against transparency. it can't be an ultimate shield on transparency. the president is not above the law. one thing you haven't told us is if your office or the inspector general is not able to investigate, who is able to investigate? >> congressman castro, once again, sir, as i mentioned several times so far, although it did not come to the committee, the complaint was referred to the judicial department for criminal investigation. this was not swept under the rug. >> i have one more question for you. why did your office think you should appeal the ig ae deposition about quote/unquote urgent concern to the boj? that has never been done before. >> this is unprecedented in the past that there has never been a matter that the inspector has
investigated that involved an organization that -- >> one last point i would make with respect to -- you keep saying the president is not part of the intelligence community. i believe he is. the president has the ability to declassify any single intelligence document. do you believe that's true? >> the president has original classification authority. >> how is that person outside of the intelligence community? >> he is the president of the united states above the entire executive branch. >> thank you. >> thank you, comingman. add mille admiral, good to see you. >> good to see you. >> despite the fact that after that navy service you became acting dni 23 days after the trump/zalinski call and 24 days after the whistle-blower made his or her complaint, you were
subpoenaed before this committee after being publicly accused of committing a crime. correct? >> yes, congressman. >> chairman schiff wrote a letter on september 13th accusing you of being part of an unlawful cover up, and then the speaker of the house went on national tv and said not once but twice that you broke the law, that you committed a crime. she said the acting director of national intelligence blocked him, meaning the icig, from disclosing the whistle-blower complaint. this is a violation of the law. you were publicly accused of committing a crime. you were also falsely accused of committing a crime and you have so accurately related, you were required to follow not just an opinion of what the law is, but the opinion from the justice department, an 11-page opinion about whether or not you were required by law to report the whistle-blower complaint. correct? >> that's correct, congressman. >> and that opinion says -- the
question is whether such a complaint falls within the statutory definition of urgent concern that the law requires the dni to forward to the intelligence committee. we conclude that it does not. did i read that accurately? i better have, right? that's an opinion not from bill barr, that's an opinion from the department of justice ethics lawyers. career officials that serve republicans and democrats. the ethics lawyers at the department of justice that determine that you did follow the law. so you were publicly accused. you were also falsely accused. yet here today, i haven't heard anything today close to an apology for that. welcome to the house of representatives with democrats in charge. let me turn to the matter that we're here for. a lot of talk about this whistle-blower complaint. the question is, at this point, given what we have, why all the focus on this whistle-blower?
the best evidence of what president trump said to president zalenski is the transcript of what president trump said to president zalenski, not casting aspersions, but a second hand account of something someone didn't hear isn't the best evidence of what someone said. and to that point, despite good faith, the whistle-blower is, in fact, wrong in numerous respects. and i know everyone is not going to have time to read the whistle-blower's complaint, but the whistle-blower says i am deeply concerned, talking about the president, that there was a serious or flagrant problem, abuse or violation of the law. the whistle-blower goes on to say i was not a direct witness to the events described. however, i found my colleagues' accounts of this to be credible. and then talking about those accounts of which this whistle-blower complaint is
based on, the whistle-blower tells us the official that i spoke with told me and i was told that and i learned from multiple u.s. officials that and white house officials told me that and i also learned from multiple u.s. officials that. in other words, all of this is second hand information. none of it is firsthand information. the whistle-blower then goes on to cite additional sources. those sources happen to include mainstream media. this includes "the washington post," the "new york times," politico, the hill, bloomberg, abc news and others. the allegations in the whistle-blower's complaints are based on third hand mainstream media sources rather than firsthand information.
attorney general barr appears to be involved, as well, but buried in a footnote a couple of pages later, the whistle-blower admits i do not know the extent to which if at all mr. juliegiulia directly coordinating hits complaints with attorney general barr. my point in all of this is, again, the transcript is the best evidence of what we have. the american people are very clear what that transcript relates is legal communications. the united states is allowed to solicit help from
if the democrats are intent on that, be my guest. i yield back? >> obviously, yesterday the white house released the transcript of that july 25th conversation between president trump and president zolinski. we now know that this phone call was indeed a part of the whistle-blower complaint. yesterday st chair at the press conference that characterizes the conversation in that call is a shakedown of the ukrainian leader.
so now let's fast rewind to may 7th of this year. when fbi director christopher wray testified before the united states senate that -- and i'm quoting now -- any public official or member of any campaign should immediately report to the fbi any conversations with foreign actors about, quote, influencing or interfering with our election. director wray is, of course, the top cop in the united states of america. you agree with director wray, do you not, sir? >> congressman, i do not disagree with director rey -- >> is that the same thing as you agree with him, sir? >> yes. >> okay. let me go on. >> it was referred to the fbi.
when the chair of the federal elections member made the following statement, let me make something 100% clear the american public and anyone running for public office, it is illegal for any person to accept, solicit, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with the u.s. election. this is not a novel concept. election intervention from foreign governments has been considered unacceptable since the beginnings of our nation. do you agree? would the fec chair, mr.
director? >> just solicits or accept it is illegal. >> i don't know about that. it's illegal, sir. >> do you think it is okay for a public official to solicit or maybe it is okay for a candidate or an selected official to solicit foreign interference in our election? i cannot believe you're saying that. you're not saying that, right? >> i'm not saying that, congressman, at all. >> so we should know that the fec chair was prompted to say this because it was literally the day before that the president of the united states sat at the resolution desk in the most iconic room of the united states, the oval office, and said fbi director rey was wrong. you're obviously disagreeing with that.
you also said he would consider doing exactly that, solicited that help. director, whether it's this president or any president, do you believe it is okay for the president of the united states to pressure a foreign country into helping him or her win an election? >> i sha >> i believe no one is above the law. >> so it is illegal to solicit -- >> i can't answer that. >> is it okay for any president to pressure a foreign government for help to win an election? >> it is unwarranted, it is unwelcome. it is bad for the nation to outside interference any -- and by extension, it would be equally unacceptable to extort that assistance, as well?
i think it's unacceptable, director. i think it's wrong. and i think we all know it. i think we were taught this at a very young age. and there's a voice within most of us, unfortunately, evidently not all of us, that suggests it is wrong. it is illegal and it is wrong. and i thank you, sir. >> congressman, if i may just answer once again -- >> i've run out of time. >> sir, no -- >> you may answer. >> director. director, go ahead. feel free. >> once again, its was referred to the federal bureau of investigation -- >> not by the president. >> by this office. >> right. >> and by the aifs of --
>> director rey said any official should immediately report it. he didn't say the director of o & i should report it. although you did and you should. thank you. but the person involved did not do what director rey said should occur, period. >> thank you, congressman. >> mr. welsh. >> director, i want to say thank you. there is nobody in this room who can claim to have served the country longer than you and your remarks about your family before you has been committed to this country. and i say thank you. second, i appreciate your kandzer when in your opening statement you acknowledge that the whistle-blower acted in good
faith. when you say you're in a unique position, that's an understatement. you got a complaint regarding the president of the united states and the united states attorney general. i disagree with some of the decisions you made, but i have no doubt whatsoever that the same sense of duty that you applied in your long career guide you as you make your decisions. so i thank you for that. but i want to ask you about the extraordinary document that came to your attention. the dni has jurisdiction over foreign interference in our election. correct? >> that's correct. >> and you're aware, as we all are, of the mueller report and his indictments against 12 foreign nationals, russians, who actively interfered in our election. correct?
>> i have read the report, yes. >> so it's a huge responsibility that your agency has. correct? the president is the one person that's above the intelligence community and your sense about executive privilege. you did not forward the complaint to you. correct? >> lt >> let me ask a hypothetical. let's say a u.s. senator who is well connected or a private citizen well connected had access to and had a conversation as a result of that with the leader of a foreign country and asked that person for a favor, the u.s. senator, let's say, provided dirt of a political opponent, is that something that
you would see that should be forwarded to this committee? >> congressman, i'm not sure you understand. >> i won't make it hypothetical. let's say instead of being the president of ukraine, who is the head of the foreign relations committee, would you forward that to our committee? >> i think i mentioned that earlier in our conversation that the united states senator is not a member of the intelligence community and the director of national intelligence does not have the authority and responsibility for the u.s. senate. so any wrongdoing in that regard should be referred to the department of justice for criminal investigation. >> i respectfully disagree with
you because obviously that would be a solicitation and that's in your jurisdiction, correct? >> election interference. yes, sir. >> okay. and once again, congressman, as far as what the legal responsibility to do in compliance with the intelligence report act, the whistle-blower protection act, it does not -- the statute does not allow for that to be done. >> well, i disagree with that. >> yes, sir. >> but here is the dilemma that you are in and we're in, but we're going to now be able to follow up because executive privilege, if it existed, was waived. under your approach, as you saw it, it means that no one would be investigating the underlying conduct because in this case, executive privilege may apply and number two, the president who the the conversation is above the law.
>> the complaint was sent to the federal bureau of investigation totally disregarding any concern for executive privilege. >>. >> the federal bureau of investigation never did a follow-up investigation. right? >> i believe they have concluded the investigation. i believe being involved in this matter here, i have other pressing matters. i apologize. >> in the justice department led by mr. barr who is the subject of the complaint is the department that provided the opinion that there's no action to be taken? >> i believe that the attorney general was mentioned in the complaint. >> correct. >> the subject of the complaint, sir. >> i yield back. thank you. >> contractor, what was your fit
day of the job? >> friday, the 16th of august. >> you had a heck of a first week, didn't you? >>. >> the complaint is dated august 12th. whatever else you've done right in your career, the timing is something you have to worry about. >> i think dan coats timing is better than mine. >> there's been a lot in the process. i want to summarize a number of things. in your first couple of days on the job, sir, you're here with this complaint. and it says that the president of the united states pressured a foreign leader to help him investigate a political opponent and that political opponent's son, in fact. that that president asked the foreign leader to work with private citizen mr. giuliani and the attorney general of the united states bill barr on that scheme.
the president at that time was withholding $391 million of assistance, holding that over that ukrainian president's head. that ukrainian president raises in the conversation u.s. military assistance. defensive weapons. he has russian troops in this country. the president skgs for a favor, complains about ukrainian reciprocity. we have to get something from you if the we're giving something to you. he names the political opponents by name, the bidens. the ukrainian president says he'll do it, that he'll do the investigation. and you're looking at that complaint that in the second paragraph alleges serious wrongdoing by the president of the united states and the first
thing you do is go to the president's men at the white house and women and say should i give it to congress? and in the second paragraph of that complaint, sir, it suggests the attorney general to be involved and the second thing you do is go to the attorney general's people at the justice department and ask them if you should give it to congress. sir, i have no question about your character. i've read your bio. i have some questions about your decision and the judgment in those decisions. see any conflicts here? >> congressman, i have a lot of experience. i do. as you said, it came to me very early on in this. the fact that i was just -- i am the acting dni and i was still using garman to get to work, this came to my attention involving the president of the united states and the important
part of this, i have always worked with legal counsel. because of the magnitude and the importance of this decision -- sir, as a naval officer for years, i thought it would be prudent. my life would have been a lot simpler -- >> my question is when you were considering prudence, did you think it was prudent to give a veto power over whether congress saw this serious allegation of wrongdoing to the two people implicated by it, is that prudent? >> i have to work with the situation as it is, congressman maloney. only the white house can determine or waive executive privilege. there is no one else to go to. and as far as a second opinion, my only avenue of that was to go to the department of justice office of legal counsel. >> and you understand, sir, that if unchallenged by your own inspector general, your
decision, that prudence, would have prevented these serious allegations from ever reaching congress. quick question, in response to mr. hines, i think you left the door open that you spoke to the president of the united states about this whistle-blower complaint. sir, do you speak to the president of the united states at any time about this complaint? >> congressman, once again, i am the president's intelligence officer. i speak to the president -- i cannot say one way -- >> i know you speak to the president a lot. it's a simple question, sir. did you speak to him about this whistle-blower complaint, yes or no? >> my conversation with the president of the united states is privileged. >> so you're not denying that you spoke to the president? i'm not asking for the content. did you or did you not speak to the president about this whistle-blower complaint? >> i speak to the president about a lot of things and anything that i say to the president of the united states in any form is privileged -- >> i'm not asking for the content. are you denying that you spoke to the president? >> i speak to the president and anything i say to the president
is confidential. >> thank you, sir. >> that's the way it is. >> i understand. thank you. >> and, director, you understand we're not asking about the your conversations with the president about national security, about foreign policy, about the national counterterrorism center, we just want to know, did you discuss this subject with the president? you can imagine what a profound conflict of interest that would be. did you discuss this subject, this whistle-blower complaint with the president? you can say i did not discuss it with him, if that's the answer. that doesn't betray any privilege. and you can say i did discuss it with him but i'm not going to get into the content of those conversations. that question you can answer. >> chairman schiff, once again, you know, my conversation, no matter what the subject is with the president of the united states is privileged conversation between the director of national intelligence and the president. >> ms. demmings.
>> thank you so much, mr. chairman. and director mcguire. thank you for being here with us today. thank you for your service. >> morning, congresswoman. >> i think you said that you took your first oath in 1974. that's a long time, but a long time to be proud of. i took my first oath in 1984 when i was sworn in as a law enforcement officer. and i thank you so much for saying that public service is a sacred trust because, regardless of the circumstances, who is involved, public service is a sacred trust. i've had an opportunity as a law enforcement officer and a member of congress now, but to investigate internal cases involving other personnel. i've had an opportunity to investigate numerous other cases, criminal cases. and never once, just for the record, director mcguire, did i ever go to a suspect, the
defendant or the principal in those cases to ask them what i should do in the case. there's been a lot of talk this morning, the whole discussion, the whole reason why we're here centers around the u.s. relationship with ukraine. i think you would gray that ukraine is very dependant on the united states in terms of assisteding them and defending themselves. could you, based on your many years of experience in the military and now in your new position talk a little bit about that relationship and how important it is for the united states to assist ukraine if they're ever going to be able to defend themselves. >> yes, congressman. i think the united states is extremely supportive of ukraine. i would say they are relying on us as they rely on other people in europe. and i would say that the united states is probably their fair share of ukraine than the others. the threats are real for the
ukrainian people. the stake of freedom and democracy is -- even though it's in the ukraine, is very much -- >> based on that, you would say ukraine could probably never get there without the support and the assistance of the united states or from the united states of america? >> i would say that if others were willing to step up and support, they might be able to get there. >> but they are not. we're there. and so i think you've said it would be difficult for ukraine to meet that goal of defending themselves without our support. correct? >> i would say it would be a challenge, yes, congresswoman. >> this complaint outlines a scheme by the president of the united states and i'm not sure what to call rudy giuliani these days, what his role is. maybe he's the new fixer, i'm not sure. but either way, it involves a scheme to coerce ukraine, this country that you say is so very dependant on the united states to defend themselves to coerce
ukraine into assisting the president's re-elections efforts in 2020. and the report from your inspector general, the memo that was sent to you, it says on july 18th, the office of management and budget official informed the departments and agencies that the president earlier that month had issued instructions to suspend all u.s. security assistance to ukraine, neither omv more the nsc staff knew why this instruction had been issued. during interagency meetings on the 23rd of july and the 26th of july, omb officials stated again the instruction to suspend this assistance had come directly from the president, but they were not -- but they were still unaware of a policy rationale. the 23rd, 26th, on the 18th this issue first came up with the
president was rescinding or suspending that assistance that you said ukraine so desperately depends on. director mcguire, we deal in what is reasonable here. and i believe your inspector general included that in the report because this whole issue of -- is about ukraine's position, relationship with the united states, their dependency on the united states, and the president's efforts to coerce ukraine and to engage in an illegal and improper investigation. do you believe that is why your inspector general added that about suspending their support to ukraine? >> i think that michael atkinson found it to be credible. and he viewed that it was a matter of urgent concern to forward to this committee. >> do you think it's reasonable for the american people and for this committee on both sides to believe that there is a correlation or a nexus between
the president suspending the aid and the conversation that took place on the -- >> congress -- >> on the follow-up conversation? >> yes, congresswoman. that is the allegation that is made and i did not have access to the transcripts the icig's cover letter and the whistleblower allegation. the other information coming to light yesterday as released by the president changes things in a different light. >> mr. chairman, may i ask just one more quick question. my understanding is that the inspector general is a career intelligence person. he's worked in the department of justices. he received numerous awards for outstanding exemplary performance. did you have any reason to deny or not believe his conclusions in every area of this report that he was directly involved in? >> congresswoman, michael
atkinson is a valued and trusted colleague. i respect him tremendously. the question came down to, as we just over and over again, urgent concern on whether or not the intelligence community, whistleblower protection ablct written, allows me to guard fort to this committee. that's where i got stuck. >> mr. mcguire, thank you so much for your service to this country and thank you for your patriotism. i want to ask you a couple questions surrounding the time of january 25th to the time you came into office as dni. as you know, the phone call between president trump and the ukranian president happened on july 25th of this year, correct? >> july 25th, i believe, sir. >> at least one of them happened on july 25th.
at the time the deputy was dan coats and sue gordon. you took office on august 16. prior to taking your new job or since, did you discuss the july 25th call or the whistleblower complaint with dni coats? >> i wouldn't have taken the job if i did. no, sir. >> how about with sue gordon? >> no, not at all. to the best of my ability, i do not think either director coats or our principal deputy sue gordon had any sense at all about this whistleblower complaint or that michael atkinson had it. >> before your current role, did you discuss ukraine with president trump? >> no, congressman, i haven't discussed ukraine with anybody. let me put it that way. >> you haven't discussed ukraine
in your arole as acting dni? >> we have 120 countries out there, but as far as intel agencies in that region right now, this is not something that's come to my attention in the six weeks i've been the acting dni. >> turning to the whistleblower and the inspector general, you don't know the identity of the whistleblower, do you? >> i do not and i've made it my business that i do not know. >> you don't know their political affiliation, do you? >> i do not. >> and you believe the whistleblower was operating in good faith? >> i do. >> and without bias? >> i don't know about that. i do not know about that. i do believe -- >> but you have no reason to believe that he or she was acting with bias, correct? >> i just believe the whistleblower was acting in good faith. >> but you have no reason to believe the person was biased. >> i would not know biassed or not biased, sir, i just don't know. >> and you will do anything you can to protect the whistleblower from any attempts to retaliate
against him or her, correct? >> i will not permit the whistleblower to be subject to any retaliation or adverse consequences for going to the i.g. i am absolutely committed to that. >> unlike the whistleblower, you do know the inspector general, correct? >> yes. i hold him in highest honesty. >> and he behaved in the highest faith, right? >> i believe michael atkinson -- yes. >> and interestingly, mr. atkinson was actually appointed by president donald trump, right? >> yes, he was. he was the presidential appointee. >> what lends real credibility to the whistleblower's complaint is the fact that mr. atkinson, an appointee of the president, would actually bring forward a complaint against his boss. and that's something that is
what you will protect against mr. atkinson? >> correct. >> there is a memo of a telephone conversation on the july 25th call, right? >> i believe that's what transpired yesterday morning, sir. >> they call that a telcon in the jargon of this memoranda, is that right? >> this is the first time i've ever seen a conversation with foreign leaders. a telecon would be a teleconference on the telephone, though. >> would you ever be present for those? >> they might call in. the president might ask us to stay for a brief time, yes, sir. >> and there are note takers who scribble down furiously what is being said on those calls? >> if they are note takers, they
wouldn't be in the oval office with us. they might be listening from somewhere else, sir. >> like from the situation room? >> i don't know, but somewhere else in the white house, yes. >> with this particular situation, maybe more than a dozen people were on the phone call. >> that's the allegation. >> and they were all taking notes? >> if they're good public servants, yes, congressman. >> were you ever party to a call where the notes that you took were then given to someone at the white house for keeping? >> i have never been party to any call other than my own. i would take notes from my own at my level or as the director at the national terrorism center, but i have never been privy to a conversation with the president where i would be involved with taking notes. it would just be happenstance. i happened to be there, and he felt comfortable enough to leave for a brief conversation. but it's nothing i would be in
that office particularly for that matter. >> thank you for your service. >> thank you, congressman, very much. thank you. >> i'd like to recognize the ranking member for any final questions that he would have. >> thank you, mr. chair. mr. mcguire, i just want to thank you for your attendance here today. congratulations for surviving legal word challenge charade today. i suspect hopefully we'll see you behind closed doors like this is supposed to be done, and i would just urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle if they would like to impeach the president, they need to go to the floor of the house and actually call for a vote. the intelligence committee is not an appropriate place to try articles of impeachment. so there is a process in the constitution that i would advise you all follow. in the meantime, director mcguire, i want to apologize to you for being accused of crimes that you have not committed. it's totally inappropriate behavior for anyone to accuse
someone who served four decades like you. i hope you do not have to go through this any longer. with that i yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you, ranking member. i appreciate it, sir. >> director, i have a few more questions. just a follow-up because i thought i heard you say a moment ago that you had no communication with the president on the subject of ukraine. did i understand you to say that? >> i have not particularly had any conversation with anyone on the subject of ukraine that didn't deal with the matter that we have right now in regard to the whistleblower complaint. so not particularly with the office of legal counsel as far as mentioning ukraine or as far as the justice department. all i did was send the document forward and let the document speak for themselves. >> so you're saying you did not have any conversation on the
subject of ukraine that did not involve this complaint? >> that's correct, sir. i've been the acting dni for six weeks. >> i'm just trying to understand, because that is suggested that you did have a conversation following the complaint with the president. >> no, no. that is not what i said. >> director, you mentioned early on when we were on the subject of what the inspector general was able to investigate or not investigate, whether the president is within the intelligence community or subject to the intelligence community. by the way, the statute doesn't require that the subject of the complaint be within the intelligence community. it requires the whistleblower to be an employee or detailee. it doesn't require that the subject, the person complained of, be an employee of the intelligence community. but you have adopted an interpretation by the justice
department that essentially says the president is above the director. therefore, the president is not subject to the jurisdiction of the director. therefore, it doesn't meet the definition of urgent concern. therefore, the inspector general is done. the inspector general can't investigate anymore. that's the inspector general's reading of the public opinion, that he is no longer allowed to investigate this. is that your reading as well? >> not necessarily the president, but the allegation has to relate to the funding and operation ability with the director of national intelligence. >> i'm trying to get to whether the president is somehow beyond the reach of the law. >> no, sir. no person in this country is beyond the reach of the law. >> that's the way it should be, but i'm trying to figure out whether that's the way it is as a practical fact. the inspector general belie