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Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, who’s testifying before the House Intelligence Committee Thursday, said he’s “not partisan, and not political,” but is doing his duty and defending the whistleblower.
“I want to state support for the whistleblower and the right and the laws,” said Maguire, who took on his role on August 16. The whistleblower “did the right thing,” Maguire said, telling House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff that because of executive privilege, he was not unable to share the details of the complaint with the House intel committee.
Maguire would also say, “I believe the situation we have, and why we’re here this morning, is because this case is unique and unprecedented.”
The whistleblower’s complaint centers on a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelensky that’s sparking an impeachment inquiry on Trump.
In the complaint, the whistleblower, whom Maguire refers to as a male, alleges that Trump tried to get Ukraine to interfere with the 2020 presidential election and the White House tried to cover it all up.
In the call, Trump raised unsubstantiated allegations that former Vice President Joe Biden sought to interfere with a Ukrainian prosecutor’s investigation of his son, Hunter. The younger Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while his father spearheaded President Obama’s administration diplomatic affairs with Kyiv. There’s no evidence that Biden’s son did any wrongdoing.
Here are five things we learned during Maguire’s hearing:
1. Maguire believes the whistleblower is acting in good faith.
Maguire repeatedly said during his three-hour testimony that he believes both the whistleblower who filed the complaint against Trump and the inspector general who took the complaint, are acting in good faith.
“I want to stress I believe the whistleblower and the inspector general have acted in good faith throughout,” Maguire said. “I have every reason to believe that they have done everything by the book and followed the law.”
Maguire told Schiff that he immediately knew the whistleblower’s complaint was “a serious matter” as soon as he read the Inspector General’s report on it.
2. Maguire has not investigated whether the whistleblower’s complaint is true.
In a heated exchange with Republican Congressman Devin Nunes from California, Maguire said that he has not investigated whether the whistleblower’s complaint is true.
“You have not investigated the veracity and truthfulness of this complaint?” Nunes asked.
“That’s correct,” said Maguire, who also testified that he would not “divulge privileged conversations,” he may have had with Trump about the complaint.
Nunes later warns Maguire to “Be careful what you say.”
3. Maguire says the whistleblower will have protections.
Maguire agrees that the handling of the whistleblower’s complaint will have a “chilling effect” on future whistleblowers…
During another heated exchange, this time with Congressman Terri Sewell, a Democrat from Alabama, Maguire agreed with Sewell when she said how the whistleblower’s complaint was handled will have “a chilling effect” on whether other whistleblowers will come forward.
“Congresswoman, I think that’s a fair assessment,” Maguire said. “I don’t disagree with what you’ve said.”
Sewell also asked Maguire can he assure that the whistleblower can have certain protections under the Whistleblower Stature as well as security clearances in order to testify fully and freely about the alleged wrongdoing from the president?
Maguire said “yes” to both Sewell and also to Schiff, who wanted similar assurances. Maguire said his department is working with the whistleblower and his lawyers to see if he can come forward to testify.
4. Trump never asked Maguire to reveal the whistleblower’s identity.
Maguire also told Congresswoman Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California, said that Trump never asked him to reveal the Whistleblower’s identity. “Although I would not normally discuss my conversations with the president, I can tell you, emphatically, NO.”
Also, Maguire testified that in light of the whistleblower’s complaint and the Trump administration releasing a transcript of Trump’s conversation with Zelensky, other foreign leaders might be hesitant to talk with the president.
“I think that other future leaders when they interact with our heads of state, might be more cautious in what they say, and reduce the interaction they have with the president because of that (transcript) release,” Maguire said.
Maguire also agreed with Texas Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro’s assertion that the whistleblower’s complaint is “remarkably consistent” with the transcript released by the Trump administration.
“I would say that the whistleblower’s complaint is in alignment with what was released by the president yesterday,” Maguire said.
Maguire also told GOP Congressman Will Hurd of Texas that he has a lot of work to reassure the intelligence community that he’s “absolutely committed” to the whistleblower program.
“No one, no one is above the law,” Maguire said.
5. Maguire said he had no “situational awareness” military aid was being withheld.
In a final exchange with Schiff, Maguire said he was unaware that the White House was withholding hundreds of millions in military aid to Ukraine with the alleged thought they would help investigate the Bidens.
“I understand that, but you’re suggesting, are you, that the president is somehow immune from the laws that preclude a U.S. person from seeking foreign help in a U.S. election, are you,” Schiff asked.
Maguire said, “What I’m saying, Chairman Schiff, is that no one, none of us is, is above the law in this country.”
Schiff replied, “Doesn’t that strike you as suspicious, Director? That no one on that National Security staff, no one in the senior leadership apparently of the party here in Congress that approved the aid, understood why the president was suspending aid?
“Doesn’t that strike you as just a little suspicious?”
Maguire said, “I’m just unaware, to be honest with you, how those decisions are made. Once again, I just had no situational awareness of what happened with the withholding of the funding.”
Schiff apparently wasn’t buying it.
“As a military man if this military aid was withheld from an ally that is fighting off Putin’s Russia, and it was done so to be used as leverage to get dirt in a U.S. political campaign, don’t you think that should be investigated?”
Maguire reiterated that he had “no situational awareness that it was being withheld or why it was withheld.”
Schiff, who will likely bring in the whistleblower to testify, quickly concluded, “Well, I can tell you, we are going to find out.”
More must-read stories from Fortune:
—A running list of questions on the impeachment inquiry answered
—3 allegations made in the declassified whistleblower complaint
—What is CrowdStrike? Trump mentioned the company in his Ukraine call
—These are the key players in the Trump impeachment inquiry
—How impeachment momentum massively shifted among democrats
—The 25 most powerful women in politics
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