Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire defended the intelligence-community whistleblower at a congressional hearing Thursday morning, saying the still-anonymous official “did the right thing.”
"I believe the whistleblower is operating in good faith," Maguire said when asked by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff if the director believed “the whistleblower is a political hack.”
“They couldn’t be in good faith if they were acting as a political hack, could they?” Schiff asked, a reference to President Trump’s characterization of the official whose Aug. 12 letter to the heads of the House and Senate Intelligence committees touched off the probe that is evolving into an impeachment inquiry. Trump has called the person, whose identity he says he does not know, a “partisan whistleblower” and described the complaint as “just another political hack job.”
The complaint against Trump over his repeated calls for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter was made public on Thursday morning. In it, the unnamed whistleblower cited conversations and details provided by "more than half a dozen U.S. officials,” alleging that Trump is “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”
“Who is this so-called ‘whistleblower’ who doesn’t know the correct facts,” Trump tweeted Monday. “Is he on our Country’s side. Where does he come from. Is this all about Schiff & the Democrats again after years of being wrong?”
“You don’t have any reason to accuse them of disloyalty to our country or suggest they’re beholden to some other country?” Schiff asked Maguire.
"Sir, absolutely not,” Maguire responded. “I believe the whistleblower followed the steps every step of the way.”
“I think the whistleblower did the right thing,” he added. “I think he followed the law every step of the way."
Schiff pressed Maguire on the timing of his defense of the whistleblower, asking why he didn’t come forward sooner to protect him against Trump’s smears.
“The way this thing was blowing out, I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to be making a press statement so that we counter each other every step of the way,” Maguire said, stating that he’d emphasized to the intelligence community his commitment to whistleblower protection.
“I think it was not only appropriate, but there’s nothing that would have given more confidence to the workforce than to hear you publicly say no one should be calling this professional who did the right thing a hack, a traitor or anything else,” Schiff said.
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