Nearly as quickly as the CIA whistleblower attracted national attention, U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney was hoisted into the media spotlight.
Maloney was credited with asking some of the most compelling questions on Thursday, Sept. 26 of Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire as a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Maguire was called to testify about the whistleblower's complaint that led six House Committees to launch an official impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, and the initial refusal by the Trump Administration to share the complaint with Congress.
According to statute and precedent, the whistleblower complaint should have been transmitted to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees by the Director of National Intelligence after being elevated by the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community. Instead, the complaint was brought only to the White House and Justice Department and held since mid-August -- defying law and a subsequent congressional subpoena. The complaint was turned over to congressional intelligence committees on Thursday.
The whistleblower complaint, which was released to the public on Friday morning, alleges the President sought to solicit interference by the Ukrainian government in advance of the 2020 presidential election by smearing a potential political rival, Vice President Joe Biden, and withholding key defense aid to the country until they complied. It also implicated Attorney General William Barr.
Maloney's congressional performance drew praise on Friday, Sept. 27 from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who said, "I am very proud of Sean Patrick Maloney."
A full transcript of Maloney's line of questioning is below:
Maloney: Director McGuire, what was your first day on the job?
Maguire: My first day on the job was Friday, the 16th of August, and I think I set a new record for the administration for being subpoenaed.
Maloney: Yeah, yeah you had a heck of a first week, didn’t you?
Maguire: I have that much going for me.
Maloney: The complaint is dated August 12. Whatever else you’ve done right in your career, sir, your timing has got to be something you are worried about.
Maguire: Congressman, I think that Dan Coates timing is better than mine.
Maloney: Sir look there’s been a lot of talk here today about the process I just want to summarize a couple of things if that’s okay. In your first couple days on the job 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 assistance, Javelins, defense weapons. He’s got 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 gotta get something from you if we’re getting something from you. He names the political opponents by name – the Bidens. The Ukrainian President says he’ll do it, he’ll do the investigation. That’s what you’re hit with. 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 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?
Maguire: Congressman Maloney, I have a lot of leadership experience, I do. And 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.
Maloney: Sir, if I may –
Maguire: Sir, as a naval officer for years, I just thought it would be prudent.
Maloney: I understand the prudent point.
Maguire: I just want to say, if I may, my life would have been a heck of a lot simpler without becoming the most famous man in the United States.
Maloney: I don’t doubt that sir. My question, sir, was when you were considering prudence did you think it was prudent to give a veto power over whether the Congress saw this serious allegation of wrong doing to the two people implicated by it. Is that prudent?
Maguire: I have to work with the situation the way 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.
Maloney: 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. Himes, I think you left the door open that you spoke to the President of the United States about this whistleblower complaint. Sir, did you speak personally to the President of the United States at any time about this complaint?
Maguire: Once again, I am the President’s intelligence officer, I speak to the President, I cannot say –
Maloney: I know you speak to the President a lot. It’s a simple question, sir, did you speak to him about this whistleblower complaint? Yes, or no?
Maguire: Congressman Maloney, my conversations with the President of the United States is privileged.
Maloney: So you’re not denying you spoke to the President, I’m not asking for the content, sir, I don’t want the content. Did you or did you not speak to the President about the whistleblower complaint?
Maguire: 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 –
Maloney: Not asking for the content. Are you denying you spoke to the President?
Maguire: I am telling you I speak to the President and anything I say to the President is confidential.
Maloney: Thank you.
Maguire: That’s the way it is.
Maloney: I understand, thank you.
Committee Chairman Adam Schiff: Director, you understand we’re 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 whistleblower 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.
Maguire: 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.