Schiff: Intel IG Is Completely Stymied By OLC Opinion Protecting Trump

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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September 26, 2019 12:45 p.m.

Thanks to a Justice Department opinion, the intelligence community’s inspector general does not believe he has jurisdiction over the whistleblower’s complaint that’s thrown the House into an impeachment investigation, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) said Thursday.

Rather, because the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel deemed the President not to be a part of the intelligence community, he is above investigation from the inspector general, Schiff suggested during testimony from Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire.

“Because it involves the President, it does not involve the intelligence community,” Schiff told Maguire, recounting the inspector general’s apparent conclusion about the effect of the OLC opinion.

“The effect of that is the inspector general has told us that he no longer has jurisdiction to investigate,” Schiff said. “By the logic of that opinion, nor does any other inspector general.”

Congress was only made aware of the complaint because the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson alerted lawmakers that Maguire was withholding it. 

It was not immediately clear how Schiff was aware of the IG’s position on his jurisdictional powers in light of the OLC opinion. Atkinson has not publicly said that he believes the OLC opinion deprives him of jurisdiction in the matter.

Combined with the “breathtaking speed” of the Justice Department’s decision that Trump had not broken any laws based on a memorandum of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Schiff said only Congress could investigate the whistleblower’s complaint.

After further prodding from Schiff, Maguire acknowledged that the matter was in Congress’ hands.

“Chairman, the horse has left the barn,” he said.

“You have all of the information. You have the whistleblower complaint. You have the letter from the ICIG, you have the office of legal counsel opinion, and you have the transcripts from the President. I feel confident that there’s going to be an investigation.”

Any potential investigation, he added, “is a matter to be determined by the chair and this committee.”

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