Acting DNI Didn’t Think Whistle Blower Complaint Was Election Security Issue

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 26: Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testifies before the House Select Committee on Intelligence in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill September 26, 20... WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 26: Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testifies before the House Select Committee on Intelligence in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill September 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. The committee questioned Maguire about a recent whistleblower complaint reportedly based on U.S. President Donald Trump pressuring Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate leading Democrats as “a favor” to him during a recent phone conversation. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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September 26, 2019 11:41 a.m.
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The acting director of national intelligence didn’t consider the whistleblower’s complaint that’s led to an impeachment inquiry to be an election security matter — but rather one concerning “a conversation by the President with another foreign leader.”

The complaint largely focuses on events surrounding a July 25 call in which President Donald Trump pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate a leading Democratic presidential contender, Joe Biden, and Biden’s son Hunter.

But acting DNI Joseph Maguire’s testified before the House Intelligence Committee Thursday that he didn’t consider that an election security matter.

“I believe that election security is my most fundamental priority, however this complaint focused on a conversation by the President with another foreign leader, not election security,” he told Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), pressed on the matter.

Swalwell brought up election security in light of the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion, the opinion Maguire cited in saying the whistleblower’s complaint was not an “urgent concern” that he was required to transmit to Congress.

The OLC opinion asserted that the intelligence community’s inspector general, who did deem the complaint an urgent matter, “cites no statute or executive order charging the DNI with operational responsibility for preventing foreign election interference.”

The opinion added later, “even if the DNI had general oversight responsibility for preventing foreign election interference, the DNI’s oversight responsibilities do not appear to extend to the President.”

Asked several times on Thursday about election interference, Maguire said that “yes it is” a priority of his.

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