Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire said Thursday that he believes the whistleblower who filed a complaint about the Trump administration's interactions with Ukraine "did the right thing" during a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.): "You don't have any reason to accuse them of disloyalty to our country or suggest that they are beholden to some other country, do you?"
Maguire: "Sir, absolutely not. I believe the whistleblower followed the steps every step of the way."
Schiff: "I'm just asking about the whistleblower right now."
Maguire: "Yes, I think the whistleblower did the right thing. I think he followed the law every step of the way."
The big picture: Maguire further defended the whistleblower's actions, but did not say if he believes the allegations in the complaint are credible.
- He instead said he respected the inspector general of the intelligence community Michael Atkinson's definition of the complaint as credible.
Context: Maguire received the complaint on Aug. 16 from Atkinson but did not forward it to Congress as required by the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act.
- Maguire said he did not give Congress the complaint because the protection act stipulates that complaints must concern members of the intelligence community, and the president is not considered a part of the community.
- He said he gave the complaint to the White House and the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) because it concerned the president's phone calls with another foreign leader and could fall under the definition of executive privilege.
- Maguire said the OLC ruled that the phone call did fit the definition of executive privilege, so he did not give Congress the complaint because he must comply with its ruling.