Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire shot down one of the GOP's key talking points.
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee Thursday attempted to dismiss as unreliable a whistleblower complaint about Donald Trump's apparently illegal attempt to solicit election help from the Ukrainian president ahead of the 2020 election, stating the information was all secondhand. But amid careful questioning by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Trump's acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire effectively quashed that argument.
During the hearing, intended to address the complaint, Castro noted that Maguire had called both the whistleblower the whistleblower's letter credible. He noted that Trump had released a memorandum of a July 25 call transcript with his Ukrainian counterpart — one of the conversations that apparently triggered the whistleblower's decision to speak up — which aligned with the concerns in the letter itself.
"You've had a chance now— as we have and I believe the American people have — had an opportunity to review both the whistleblower complaint and the [partial] transcript that was released of the phone call between the president of the United States and the president of the Ukraine. You've read both documents by now, haven't you?" Castro asked.
After Maguire confirmed that he had, Castro pushed further. "Would you say that the whistleblower's complaint is remarkably consistent with the transcript that was released?" he asked Trump's handpicked intelligence head.
"I would say that the whistleblower's complaint is in alignment with what was released yesterday by the president," he conceded.
The whistleblower complaint alleges that Trump took steps to pressure the Ukrainian president into opening up an investigation into his 2020 election rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden's son Hunter previously sat on the board of a Ukranian energy company, which fell under investigation by former Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin. Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani have claimed, without proof, that Biden successfully forced Shokin out in 2016, to benefit his son, though there is no evidence to support this measure, and the investigation itself was no longer active at the time Shokin was eventually ousted by the Ukrainian Parliament in March 2016.
In his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July, Trump requested that Zelensky do him a "favor" and look into Biden, his potential 2020 election opponent.
It is illegal to solicit foreign assistance in a U.S. election, according to the Intelligence Community Inspector General. According to the chair of the Federal Elections Commission, it is also illegal "to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.