House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday equated Democrats not getting what they wanted in the Ukraine whistleblower incident with a violation of the law.
Pelosi voiced outrage that acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire withheld the whistleblower complaint from Congress, according to The Hill.
“What the DNI did was broke the law. The law is very clear: The DNI ‘shall’ convey the complaint to the Intelligence committees — not the whole Congress — to the Intelligence committees,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi, who has accused President Donald Trump of launching a “cover-up” of the incident, said the law creating Maguire’s position was “carefully balanced to protect our intelligence and to protect the whistleblower.”
“So he has to convey it,” she said, insisting that her version of the law trumped Maguire’s interpretation of his duties.
During testimony Thursday before the House Intelligence Committee, Maguire indicated that because the complaint touched upon the president, he needed to consult with the White House to determine if it was covered by executive privilege.
“Until executive privilege is determined and cleared, I did not have the authority to be able to send that forward to the committee,” Maguire said, according to Roll Call. “I believe this case is unique and unprecedented.”
“I just thought it would be prudent to have another opinion,” Maguire said, according to The Washington Post.
Maguire first went to the White House Counsel’s Office and next to the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department. At that point, the picture changed.
The Office of Legal Counsel found that the complaint regarding the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky did not meet the legal definition of an “urgent concern” under the whistleblower law. The law requires those matters to be turned over to Congress.
“I was not receiving direction from anybody,” Maguire said. “I have to comply with the way the law is, not the way some people would like it to be.”
Pelosi said that Maguire did everything wrong.
“The very idea that the subject of the complaint is who he went to find out if it was OK to go forward, I think, is wrong,” Pelosi said. “I don’t think it’s nefarious, I just think it’s wrong, and it’s against the law.”
However, Republican Devin Nunes of California said the hearing was nothing more than political posturing.
“Democrats, their media mouthpieces, and a cabal of leakers are ginning up a fake story,” Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the committee, said in his opening statement.
“The Democrats simply moved the goalposts and began claiming that there doesn’t need to be a quid pro quo for this to serve as the basis for impeaching the president.”
House Minority Whip @SteveScalise unloads: “It’s pathetic and disgraceful that after the Mueller report showed there was no collusion, Speaker Pelosi continues to advance this impeachment witch hunt, now relying on unconfirmed, secondhand accusations.” pic.twitter.com/SYiSODkW5q
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) September 24, 2019
Pelosi has said the call served as the catalyst for Democrats to label their various investigations of Trump as part of an impeachment inquiry.
“Our consensus in our caucus is that we will proceed under the auspiciousness of where this matter is relevant and that is in the Intelligence Committee,” Pelosi said, adding that timeline of any impeachment activities “will spring from them.”
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