- Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence (DNI), delivered a whistleblower complaint involving President Donald Trump to Congress on Wednesday.
- The move came hours after the White House released a memo of a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that is at the centre of the complaint.
- Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general, determined that it was “credible” and of “urgent concern,” which should have triggered a federal statute requiring the DNI to transmit the complaint to Congress.
- But the Justice Department and White House stopped Maguire from doing so because they argued that the complaint involved a person – Trump – who is not under the DNI’s jurisdiction.
- Congressional intelligence committees will review the complaint first in secure viewing facilities, and after a declassification review, copies of the document will likely be more widely distributed in Congress on Thursday.
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Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire released a whistleblower complaint about President Donald Trump to Congress on Wednesday.
Lawmakers on the House and Senate intelligence committees will get to review the complaint first but will do so in secure rooms built for viewing classified information.
After a declassification review, copies of the document will likely be more widely distributed in Congress on Thursday, a person familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.
Rep. Mike Quigley, a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said after viewing the complaint that it “reinforces our concerns” and was very well done.
Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, meanwhile, said to his fellow party members that “Republicans ought not to be rushing to circle the wagons and say there’s no there there when there’s obviously a lot that’s very troubling here.”
And Democrats, he added, “ought not have been using words like impeachment before they knew anything about the actual substance.”
The complaint was filed by a US intelligence official in August and centres around a July 25 phone call Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump repeatedly pushed Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and discredit the Russia probe. He also suggested Zelensky should work with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr on the matter.
After the whistleblower filed their complaint, Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general, determined it was “credible” and of “urgent concern,” which should have triggered a federal statute requiring Maguire to transmit the complaint to congressional intelligence committees.
But after consulting with the Justice Department and White House officials, Maguire determined he was not required to turn over the document because it related to a person – Trump – who is not under the director of national intelligence’s jurisdiction.
Revelations about the complaint ignited a firestorm in Congress and among the public, with many lawmakers and national-security veterans accusing Maguire of breaking the law by refusing to turn the complaint over.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump on Tuesday because of the unprecedented nature of the complaint, in which a sitting US president was accused of asking a foreign government to dip its toes into a presidential election by investigating his political opponent.
The White House released a memo of the phone call earlier Wednesday.
Trump had ordered the US to withhold a nearly $US400 million military-aid package to Ukraine days before the phone call. Notes of the call show the US president made no direct mention of offering aid in exchange for Zelensky’s assistance in probing Biden, but he brought up how the US does “a lot for Ukraine” right before asking Zelensky to help out with investigating Biden and undermining the Russia probe.
Maguire is set to testify about the complaint in an open hearing before the House Intelligence Committee at 9 a.m. ET on Thursday.
During a press conference in New York City on Wednesday, Trump downplayed the significance of his conversation with Zelensky and the surrounding scandal.
“No push, no pressure, no nothing. It’s all a hoax, folks. It’s all a big hoax,” Trump said.