tv MSNBC Live With Craig Melvin MSNBC September 26, 2019 8:00am-9:00am PDT
thank you. >> ms. divine. >> thank you, mr. maguire, for being here. we appreciate your life of public service. my question relates to prior to the transmission on august 26 from the ig to the dni, were there any conversations that you had with the ig prior to august 26 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 get back to you and give you a full chronology if i may on the actual timeline of events. >> that would be very helpful to this committee in terms of, if there were any preliminary conversation, 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 is 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. i think that's very important for americans to hear. but on page one, and i'm not going to improvise for parity purposes like the claire man did. i'll quote it directly. on page one the complaint reads, quote, i was not a direct witness to most of the events described. this seems like a very important line to look into, and i think the american public will have questions in particular about that line. so my question to you is, for the record, did the ig fully investigate the allegations into this complaint at this time? has the ig fully investigated the allegations in this complaint? >> as i said earlier, congresswoman, i believe the intelligence community inspector general did a thorough investigation with the 14-daytime frame that he had. and under that timeline, to the best of his ability, made the determination that it was both credible and urgent. i have no reason to doubt that michael atkinson did anything but his job. >> so when you talk about a full
investigation, were the veracity of the allegations in the complaint looked into? there were many references to white house officials. do you know if the ig spoke with those white house officials? do you know if he investigated, again, the truthfulness of these allegations? or was it a preliminary investigation? >> congresswoman, i'd have to defer to the ig to respond to you on that. but i do know -- although i do not know the identity of the whistle-blower, i do know that michael atkinson had, in fact, discussed this with the whistle-blower and found his complaint to be credible. as far as who else he spoke with, i'm unweaware of what wen on into michael atkinson's investigation into this matter. >> so as of today, the only individual we know the ig spoke with is the complainant, is the author and the whistle-blower? >> congresswoman, what i'm saying is i'm unaware who else michael atkinson may have spoken
to. i'm just 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. because on page one it says no direct knowledge, i think it's very important that we conduct -- that we have questions answered for individuals that do have direct knowledge. with that i yield back. >> thank you, congresswoman. >> mr. swalwell. >> thank you. mr. maguire, do you agree the defers of a coverup is an attempt to prevent people from discovering a crime? >> i'd say that's close. i'm sure there's others. i don't disagree with that, sir. >> in the whistle-blower's complaint, the whistle-blower alleges that immediately after the president's call with the president of ukraine on july 25 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 -- i apologize. >> is that what was alleged in the whistle-blower complaint? yes or no. >> congressman, sir, all i know is that was the allegation -- >> i'm asking you that. >> that's the allegation. >> you read that allegation, and the first people that you go to after you read that allegation are the white house lawyers who are telling the white house officials who see this transcript and move to it a secret compartmentalized system. yes or no? >> yes. >> i'm going to keep going here. you get this complaint. 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 in consultation with the intelligence community inspector general went to the office of legal counsel. and we were not directed to do that. >> mr. maguire, you said this did not involve on going intelligence activities. however, the whistle-blower says this is not the first time that the president's transcripts with foreign leaders were improperly moved to an intelligence community code ware system. is that the allegation? >> i believe that's in the letter. it can speak for itself. >> what can also speak for itself, if a transcript with a foreign leader is improperly moved into a intelligence community classification system, that would involve your responsibilities, is that right? >> not necessarily. i do not -- it is not underneath my authority and responsibility.
and once again, this is an allegation that has been made. it does not necessarily mean that that is a true statement. >> the allegation was determined to be urgent and credible by the inspector general. is that right? >> yes, it was. >> would you also want to know considering that you are the director of national intelligence and transcripts are being moved to a secret intelligence system, whether other transcripts, perhaps the president's phone calls with vladimir putin, with mbs of vapor erdogan of turkey or kim jong-un, would you want to know if those were also being improperly moved because the president is trying to cover up something? >> congressman, how the white house, the executive office of the president and the national security council conduct their business, is their business. >> it's actually your business to protect america's secrets? >> it's all of ours. this committee as well. >> if there's coverup activity because the president is working
improperly with a foreign government, that can compromise america's secrets, is that right? >> congressman there's allegations of a coverup. i'm sure an investigation might lead credence or disprove that. right now all we have is an allegation for secondhand 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 you were not responsible for preventing foreign election interference. is that right? that was in the opinion? >> what the office of legal counsel did was over 11 pages gave an opinion defining and explaining their justification for it not complying with urgent -- >> are you responsible for preventing election interference? >> election interference -- >> by a government government. >> congressman. >> i hope you know the answer is yes or no. are you responsible for preventing election interference? >> election interference. >> i really hope you know the
answer. >> it's a priority of the intelligence committee. >> is it your priority? >> yes, it is. >> this alleges a shakedown by the president of the yates, someone who has no clearance, no authority under the united states and an effort by the white house to move the transcript of this call to a secret system. that's at least what is alleged. >> congressman i believe election security is my most fundamental priority. this complaint focused on the conversation of the president with another foreign leader, not election security. >> i yield back. >> 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? >> mr. chairman, once again, this was sent to the federal
bureau of investigation -- >> i understand that. you're not suggesting, are you, that the president is somehow immune from the laws that preclude a u.s. person from seeking help in a u.s. election, are you? >> what i'm saying, chairman schiff, is that no one, none of us is above the law in this country. >> mr. hurd. >> thank you, chairman. it's a pleasure to be here with you. i tell my friends all the time i've gotten more surveillance as a member of congress than as an undercover officer in the cia. i think you've gotten more arrows shot at you since you've been dni than almost four decades on the battlefield. a specific question, the letter that's contained in the whistle-blower package is actually dated august 12th. 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 on the select committee of intelligence and 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 law every step of the way. >> good copy. we've talked about the way the law on the whistle-blower statute says you shall share if it's decided to be an urgent concern. however, best practices has always been to share regardless of whether that urgent concern. do you see any reason, negative impact on the intelligence community if that legislation was changed to say all whistle-blower complaints should be shared with the committees? >> that's correct. and in addition to that, congressman, let's just say the allegation was made against a member of this committee. member of this committee,
although you're the intelligence committee, are not members of the intelligence community. 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? i ask that because i don't know why when the statute was written it didn't say all should be shared rather than only urgent concern. as the head of the intelligence community, if we changed that law, would it have impact on intelligence equities? >> i don't think the law can be changed to cover all things that might possibly happen. i think we have a good law. i think it is well written. however, as i said, congressman, this is unprecedented and this is a unique situation, why we're sitting here this morning. >> sure and i hope we're not in this position again.
however, if we do find ourselves in this position again, i want to make sure there is not any uncertainty as to when information should be shared with this committee. was the odni under you or your predecessor aware of an omb decision to suspend ukrainian aid as was alleged in this complaint? >> as far as i'm concerned personally, congressman, no, i have no knowledge of that. i'm unaware of anybody within the odni is aware of that. i don't know the answer to that. >> again, 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 -- >> legal counsel. >> legal counsel, excuse me, guidance, override laws passed by congress? >> the office of legal counsel does not override laws passed by congress. what it does is 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. i have two final questions and i'll ask them together to give you the time to answer them both. >> yes, sir. >> what is your assessment of how intelligence operations in general are going to be impacted by this latest episode? 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 alluded to it in some of your previous questions, but i would like your assessment on how this could impact intelligence operation in the future. and i do believe this is your first time testifying to congress in your position, right? i would welcome in the end -- i know this is a little off topic, what do you see our greatest challenges and threats to this country as the director of
national intelligence? >> let me answer the latter part of that. i think the greatest challenge we face is not necessarily from a kinetic strike with russia or china or iran or north korea. i think the greatest challenge that we do have is to make sure we maintain the integrity of our election system. we know right now there are foreign powers who are trying to get us to question the validity on whether or not our elections are valid. so first and foremost, i think that protecting the sanctity of our elections within the united states, whether it be national, city, state and local, is perhaps the most important job that we have with the intelligence community. outside of that, we do face significant threats. i'd say number one is not necessarily kinetic, but cyber. this is a cyber world. we talk about with the great competition taking place with russia and china.
we're building ships and weapons to do that. in my estimation, the great competition with these countries is taking place right now and doing that in the cyber -- >> my time is i think running out. the broader implications on intelligence operations of this current whistle-blower situation. >> well, 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, i'm totally committed to the whistle-blower program. and i'm absolutely, absolutely committed to protecting the anonymity of this individual as well as making sure that michael atkinson who is our icig continues to be annual to do his job unfeted. with that i certainly have to be proactive with my communications with my team. >> mr. chairman, i yield back the time i may or may not have. >> mr. castro. >> thank you, chairman. thank you, director maguire for
your testimony today. i want to say thank you, also, to the whistle-blower for having the courage and 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 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, have had an opportunity to review both the whistle-blower complaint and the transcript that was 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 the whistle-blower's complaint is remarkably consistent with the transcript that was 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-blower's complaint the whistle-blower says according to the white house officials who had direct knowledge of the call, the president pressured mr. zelensky to -- and there's a few bullet points. the first one says initiate or continue an investigation into the activities of former vice president joseph biden and his son hunter biden. the 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 transcript that was released on page four of the first paragraph into what looks like the third sentence, president trump says the former ambassador from 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 again would be great. biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, et cetera. 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, as the dni, it is not my place to ensure that it is credible. that is the icig's job as the inspector. he has determined that it is credible. 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. outside of that -- >> director maguire, you agree
it involved intelligence matters, involved an issue of election interference, involved an 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 investigate or drum up an investigation against a former vice president, would that -- that wouldn't qualify as an intelligence matter? would that qualify as an intelligence matter? yes or no. >> i don't mean to say 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. >> the complaint -- >> but that's what the president is asking the president of the ukraine to do, he's asking the president of 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 was by the president to the president of ukraine, as you know, and it is -- i am not --
>> mr. maguire, i understand that that cannot be -- that cannot be an ultimate shield against transparency. it can't be an ultimate shield against accountability. the president is not above the law. one thing that you haven't told us is, if your office or the inspector general is not able to investigate, then 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's determination about, quote, unquote, urgent concern to the doj? that has never been done before. it's never been done before. >> this is unprecedented in that in the past there has never been a matter that the inspector general has investigated that did not involve a member of the
intelligence community or an organization that the director of national -- >> 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, you agree, has the ability to declassify any single intelligence document. do you agree that's true? >> the president has original classification authority. >> then 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, congressman. >> mr. ratcliffe. >> thank you, chairman. admiral, good to see you. you commanded s.e.a.l. team two and retired as an admiral in the navy. >> that's correct. >> despite the fact, after that service you became acting dni 23 days after the trump-zelensky call and four 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 13 accusing you of being part of a, quote, unlawful coverup, and then the speaker of the house took it one step further. she 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 and also falsely accused of committing a crime as was accurately related. you were required to follow not just an opinion of what the law is, but the opinion of the justice department, an 11-page opinion about weren't you were required by law to report the whistle-blower complaint, correct?
>> that's correct. >> 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 it does not. did i read that accurately? >> yes. >> i better have, right? that's not an opinion from bill barr, that's from the department of justice ethics lawyers, not political appointees but career officials that serve republicans and democrats, the ethics lawyers at the department of justice that determined that you did follow the law. so you were publicly accused, also falsely accused. yet here today i haven't heard anything 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 zelensky is a transcript of what president trump said to president zelensky, not casting aspersions on the whistle-blower's good faith or intent, but a secondhand account of something someone didn't hear isn't as good as the best evidence of what was actually said. and to that point, despite good faith, the whistle-blower is, in fact, wrong in numerous respects. i know everyone is not going to have time to read the whistle-blower's complaint. but the wnl 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 then goes on to say i was not a direct witness to the events described. however, i found my colleague's 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 officials 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 secondhand information, none of it is firsthand information. the whistle-blower then goes on to cite additional sources besides those secondhand information. those sources happen to include mainstream media. the sources that the whistle-blower bases the complaints on include "the washington post," "the new york times," politico, the hill, bloomberg, abc news and others. in other words, much like the steele dossier, the allegations in the whistle-blower's complaints are based on third-hand mainstream media sources rather than firsthand information. the whistle-blower also appears to allege crimes not just against the president, but says
with regard to this scheme to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 election, that quote, the president's personal lawyer, mr. rudy giuliani, is a central figure in this effort and attorney general barr appears to be involved as well. 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. giuliani is directly coordinating his efforts on the ukraine with attorney general barr. the attorney general does know because he issued a statement yesterday saying there was no involvement. my point is all of this is, again, the transcript is the best evidence of what we have. so the american people are very clear what that transcript relates is legal communications. the united states is allowed to solicit help from a foreign government in an ongoing criminal investigation which is
exactly what president trump did in that conversation. so if the democrats are intent on impeaching the president for lawful conduct, be my guest. i yield back. >> thank you congressman ratcliffe. >> mr. heck. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here, sir. thank you very much for your service. i want to step back a little bit and put into perspective i think what's at stake here. obviously yesterday the white house released the transcript of that july 25th conversation between president trump and president zelensky. we now know that this phone call was indeed a part of the whistle-blower complaint. yesterday the chair at a press conference characterized the president's conversation in that call as a shakedown of the ukrainian leader, not suggesting it was a shakedown for either information or money, but instead was a shakedown for help to win a presidential election
which is coming up next year. so now let's rewind to may 7th of this year when fbi director christopher wray testified before the united states senate that, i'm quoting now, any public official or member of any campaign should meade rattly report to the fbi any conversations with foreign actors about, quote, influencing or interfering with our election. director wray is, of course, the top come in the united states of america. you agree with director wray, do you not, sir? >> congressman heck, i do not disagree with director wray. >> is that the same thing as you agree with him, sir? >> yes. once again -- it was referred to the fbi. >> let me fast forward. it was referred to the fbi by the president who actually
engaged in the conversation? >> the -- >> no, it was not. let me fast forward to june 13th, five weeks in advance of that, when the chair of the federal elections commission made the following statement. follow me, please. let me make something 100% dealer 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 a 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 with the fec chair weintraub? >> i agree our elections are sacred, and any interference from an outside source is not what we want --
>> and to solicit or accept it is illegal? >> i don't know about that. i'm not a lawyer. i don't mean to be evasive. >> so you think it is okay for a public official to solicit -- it may be okay. you don't know the law in this regard. you think it may be okay for a candidate or elected official to solicit foreign interference in our election? i can't believe you're saying that. you're not saying that, are you? >> i'm not saying that, congressman heck, at all. >> we should note the fec chair was prompted to say this was it was just writ rally the day before that the president of the united states sat at the resolute desk in the most iconic room in the united states, the oval office, and said fbi director wray was wrong. you're obviously disagreeing with that. he also said he would consider accepting foreign help and, of course, yesterday we learned that the president did, in fact, did, in fact, do 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? >> congressman heck, i believe that no one is above the law. we've discussed what we think applies to the law. >> so it is illegal to solicit? >> i can't answer that. >> i can't reconcile your two statements. is it okay for a president to pressure -- 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 have outside interference in any foreign power. >> and by extension, it would be equally unacceptable to extort that assistance as well. >> all i know is that i have the
transcripts as you have. i have the whistle-blower complaint as you have. >> i wasn't referring to the whistle-blower complaint. but if any president were to do this, and i accept your answer. i think it's unacceptable, director. >> yes, sir. >> i think it's wrong and i think we all know it. i think we were taught this at a very young age. 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. i thank you, sir, and with that i yield back. >> congressman, if i may answer once again -- >> i've wren out of time, sir. >> director, you may answer. director, go ahead. >> once again, it was referred to the federal bureau of investigation. >> not by the president. >> no, by this office. >> right. >> and by the office of -- by the icig.
>> director wray said any candidate or elected official should immediately report it. he didn't say that the director of oni should report it although you should and you did, thank you. but the person involved did not do what director wray said should occur, period. >> thank you, congressman. >> thank you, sir. >> mr. welch. >> thank you. director, i want to say thank you. there's nobody in this room who can claim to have served their country longer and more valiantly than you. i heard in your opening remarks that your family before you has been committed to this country, and i say thank you. second, i appreciated your candor when in your opening statement you acknowledged that the whistle-blower acted in good faith. third, i appreciated your acknowledgment that the inspector general also acted in
good faith and according to his view of the law. i want to say this. when you say you're in a unique position, that's an understatement. you got a complaint involving the president of the united states and also 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 and illustrious career guided you as you made these decisions. so thank you for that. i want to ask a few questions about the extraordinary document that came to your attention. the dni has jurisdiction over foreign interference in our elections, correct? >> that's correct. >> 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, zplekt. >> i have read the report, >> it's a huge responsibility that your agency has, correct? in this case, because of the two things you mentioned, that the president is the one person that's above the intelligence community and in your sense as executive privilege, you did not forward the complaint to us, correct? >> yes, congressman welch, because i was still working with the white house -- >> i understand that. you've been very clear on that. but let me just ask a hypothetical just to show the dilemma that you were in. let's say a u.s. senator who is well connected or a private citizen well connected had access to and had a conversation with the leader of a foreign country and asked that person for a favor, the u.s. senator, let's say, of providing dirt on a political opponent.
is that something that you would see that should be forwarded to this committee? >> congressman, i don't mean to be disrespectful. it's very difficult to answer hypothetical questions. i'm not sure i understand. >> i won't make it hypothetical. let's say instead of it being a conversation between the president and the president of the ukraine, it was a u.s. senator who was the head of the foreign relations committee and was asking for the foreign leader -- >> i understand. >> 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 of 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 by that u.s.
senator for interference in our elections, and that's in your jurisdiction, correct? >> well, election interference, yes, congressman welch. wu once again, congressman, although it is, as far as what the legal responsibility to do in compliance with the intelligence reform act, the whistle-blower protection act, the statute did not allow for that to be done. >> well, i disagree with that. but here is the dilemma that you were in and we're in but we're not going to 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 applies or may apply, and number two, the president who had the conversation is above the law. so that's a dilemma for a
democracy, is it not? >> the complaint was sent to the federal bureau of investigation, totally disregarding any concern for executive privilege. >> i understand. but the federal bureau of investigation never did a followup investigation, right? >> i believe that they have concluded the investigation. i'm not sure, in addition to being involved with this matter here, i also have other pressing matters. i apologize. >> the justice department led by mr. barr who is the subject of the complaint, the department provided the opinion that there's no action to be taken. >> i believe the attorney general was mentioned in the complaint, not necessarily subject of the complaint. >> well, he was mentioned. >> yes, sir. >> i yield back. >> congressman welch, thank you. >> mr. maloney. >> director maguire, what was
your first day on the job? >> my first day on the job wednesday friday, the 16th of august. i think i set a new record of being subpoenaed -- >> a heck of a first week. >> had that much goings for me, sir. >> the complaint is dated august 12th. whatever else you've done right in your career, your timing is got to be something -- >> i think dan coates' timing is better than mine. >> there's been a lot of talk today about the process. i want to summarize a couple of things if that's okay. >> yes, sir. >> if your first couple days on the job, sir, you're hit with this complaint. it says 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, not in dispute, was withholding $391 million of assistance, holding that over that ukrainian president's head. that ukrainian president raises in the conversation u.s. military systems, javelin, defensive weapons. he has russian troops in his country. the wolf is at the door. the president asks for a favor, complains about ukrainian reciprocity, not getting enough from you. that's what reciprocity is, right? we've got to get something from you if we're giving something to you. he names the political opponent by name, the bidens. the ukrainian president says he'll do it, he'll do the investigation. that's what you're hit with. 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 also suggests the attorney general could 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. do you see any conflicts here? >> congressman maloney, i have a lot of leadership 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 garmin to get to work, that this came to my attention involving the president of the united states and the important
matter of this. in the past, as i said before, i have always worked with legal counsel. because of the magnitude and the importance of this decision, i just -- sir, as a naval officer for years, i just thought it would be prudent. >> i understand -- >> i also want to say, if i may, my life would have been a heck of a lot simpler without becoming the most famous man of the united states -- >> no doubt about that. my question is, when considering prudence, did you think it was prudent to give 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 wave executive privilege. there is no one else to go to. as far as a second opinion, my only avenue of that was to go to the department of justice office of legal counsel. >> you understand, sir, 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. himes, i think you left the door open that you spoke to the president of the united states about this whistle-blower complaint. sir, did you speak personally 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 -- >> mr. director, 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. >> congressman maloney, my conversations with the president of the united states are privileged. >> i don't want 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 i say to the president of the united states in any form is privileged. >> not asking for the content. are you denying you spoke to the president? >> i'm telling you once again, 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. >> director, you understand we or not asking you about 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. 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, 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. demings.
>> thank you so much, mr. chairman and director maguire, thank you for being with us here today. thank you for your service. >> good morning, congresswoman. >> i know you said you took your first oath in 1974. that's a long time, but a long time to be proud of the service. i took my first oath in 1984 when i was sworn in as a law enforcement officer. i thank you so much for saying that public service is a sacred trust, because regardless of the circumstances or who is involved, public service is a sacred trust. i've had an opportunity as a law enforcement officer -- i'm 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 maguire, did i ever go to the suspect or 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 agree that ukraine is very dependent on the united states in terms of assisting them in 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, congresswoman. i think the united states has been extremely supportive of the ukraine. i would say they are relying on us, as they rely on other people in europe. i would also say that the united states is probably paying more of their fair share for the support of ukraine than the others. the threats are real for the
ukrainian people, and the stake of freedom and democracy is also -- even though it's in the ukraine, is also very much a concern. >> based on that, you would say ukraine probably could never get there without the support and the assistance of the united states or from the united states of america? >> i would say if others were willing to separate up and support, they might be able to get there. >> but they are not. we're there. 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 really sure what to call rudy giuliani these day, what his role is, maybe he's the new fixer. i'm not sure. either way it involves a scheme to coerce ukraine, this country that you say is so very dependent on the united states to defend themselves, to coerce
ukraine into assisting the president's re-election efforts in 2020. in the report from your inspector general, the memo sent to yourks it says on july 18, 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 omb nor 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 again stated explicitly the instruction to suspend this assistance had come directly from the president, but they were still unaware of a policy rationale. 23rd, 26th, on the 18th this
issue first came up when the president was suspending that assistance that you say ukraine so desperately depends on. director maguire, we deal in what's reasonable here. and i believe your inspector genuine concluded that in the report because this whole issue is about ukraine's position, relationship with the united states, their dependency on the united states and the president's efforts to coerce you crane into engaging in an illegal and improper investigation. do you believe that's why your inspector general added that about suspending their support to ukraine? >> i think 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 followup conversation. >> yes, congresswoman, that is the allegation that and i did not have access to the transcripts. my only information was the whistle-blower allegation. the other information coming to light yesterday as released by the president changes things in different light. >> mr. chairman, may i ask one more, quickly? >> without objection. >> my understanding is the inspector general is a career intelligence person. he's worked in the department of justice. he's 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 have just over and over again, urgent concern and whether or not the intelligence community whistle-blower protection act allows me to forward it to this committee. that's where i got stuck, ma'am, and i'm sorry. >> thank you. >> mr. krishnamoorthi. >> thank you so much, mr. maguire, for your service to our country and your patriotispatri. i want to ask you about the time from july 25th to the time you came into office as dni. as you know, the phone call president president trump and the ukrainian president happened on july 25th of this year. >> i believe july 25th, sir. >> at least one of them happened on july 25th. at that time the dni was dan coats and his deputy was sue
gored. as you know, the whistle-blower claim was filed on august 12 of this of this year and then you took office on august 16th, four days later. >> yes, sir. >> prior to taking your new job or since, did you discuss the call or whistle-blower 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 believe dan coats or sue gordon had any sense of this whistle-blower complaint or that michael atkinson had it. >> in your current role do you discuss ukraine with president trump? >> no, congressman, i haven't discussed ukraine with anybody, let me put it to you that way. >> you haven't discussed ukraine in your current role as acting
the dni? >> we have 190 countries out there. whatever the president's daily brief is and matters that pertain to this. but this is not something that has come to my attention in my six weeks as acting dni. >> turning to the whistle-blower and the inspector general, you don't know the identity of the whistle-blower? >> congressman, i do not. >> and you don't know his or her political affiliation. >> i do not. >> you believe the whistle-blower was operating in good faith? >> i do. >> and without bias? >> i do not know about that. >> but you have no reason to believe he or she was acting without bias; is that correct? >> i believe they were acting in good faith. >> but not biased? >> i don't know biased or not biased.
>> and you will protect the whistle-blower against any attempts to retaliate against him or her; is that correct? >> i will not allow the whistle-blower to be subject to retaliation, yes. >> unlike the whistle-blower, you do know the inspector general, obviously. >> yes, i hold him in high esteem. >> like the whistle-blower, he also operated in the highest faith, right? >> i believe that michael atkinson -- yes. yes. >> and interestingly, mr. atkinson was actually appointed by president donald trump, right? >> yes, he is a presidential appointee. >> what lends real credibility to the whistle-blower'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 especially courageous. what you want to hear from you is you will also do everything you can to protect mr. atkinson from potential retaliation. >> congressman, absolutely.
>> very good. now, the white house released a memorandum of telephone conversation from the july 25th, 2019 call, right? >> i believe that's what was transmitted yesterday morning, sir. >> and they call that a telcon in the jargon, right? >> this is the first time i've seen a transcript of a presidential conversation with a foreign leader. >> have you been a party to a conversation between the president and a foreign leader on a phone call? >> when i am in the office to provide the intelligence brief to the president, some foreign head of state might call in. the president may either ask us to leave or just stay there for brief call from time to time, yes, sir. >> and there are note takers who actually scribble down furiously what's being said? >> if there are note-takers,
they would not be in the oval office with us, they might be listening from somewhere else. >> like the situation room? >> i don't know, but somewhere within the white house, yes. >> and in this particular situation, maybe more than a dozen people were on the phone call. >> that's the allegation, yes, sir. >> and they were all taking notes, presumably? >> if they're good public servants, yes, congressman. >> were you ever a 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 for my own at my level or in the national counterterrorism center. but i have never been privy to a conversation with the president where i happened to take notes. it's not anything that i would be in that office particularly
for that matter. >> thank you for your service. >> thank you, congressman, very much. thank you. >> i would like to recognize the ranking member for any final questions that he would have. >> thank you, mr. chair. mr. maguire, i just want to thank you for your attendance here today, congratulations for surviving legal word challenge charade here 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 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 maguire, i am -- i want to apologize to you for being accused of crimes that you have not committed. it's totally inappropriate
behavior to accuse someone who has served four decades like you. i hope you do not have to go through in any longer. with that i yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you, i appreciate it. >> director, i have a few more questions, just to 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 -- 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 whistle-blower 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 documents forward. the allegations are in there. i've just let the documents speak for themselves. >> so you're saying you did not
have any conversation on the subject of the ukraine that did not involve this complaint? >> that's correct, sir. i mean, i've been the acting dni for six weeks. >> i'm just trying to understand, because that suggests you did have a conversation involving the complaint with the president. >> no, no. that is not what i said, sir. >> okay. 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, and by the way, the statute doesn't require that the subject of the complaint be within the intelligence community, it requires the whistle-blower 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 department opinion, that he is no longer allowed to investigate this. is that your reading as well? >> chairman, not necessarily the president, but the allegation has to relate to the funding, administration, operation of an intelligence activity within the responsibility and the authority of the director of national intelligence. >> okay. i'm just 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. >> well, that's the way it should be but i'm trying to figure out whether that's the way it is as a practical