Acting intelligence chief to come before the House Intelligence Committee.
Joseph Maguire, the intelligence chief at the center of the fight over a whistle-blower complaint about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, will make a much-anticipated appearance on Thursday morning before the House Intelligence Committee.
It is unclear how much Mr. Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, will be able to disclose about the whistle-blower’s complaint, much of which remains classified. His office transmitted a declassified version of it to Congress’s intelligence committees late Wednesday, after a classified version had been made available for review by select lawmakers.
He is also expected to avoid revealing any details of the whistle-blower’s identity, which could be a violation of the law.
Mr. Maguire will be able to discuss why he and his general counsel disagreed with the inspector general for the intelligence agencies that the complaint needed to be handed over to the congressional intelligence panels.
The differences of opinion between Mr. Maguire and Michael Atkinson, the inspector general, will be the heart of many questions from House Democrats, who objected angrily to Mr. Maguire’s refusal to share the material with Congress, which they said was required by law. The Democrats will also hammer away at the consultations between Mr. Maguire’s office, the Justice Department and the White House, seeking to find out whether the administration influenced Mr. Maguire’s decision. They plan to seek assurances that the whistle-blower will be protected.
Mr. Maguire is expected to argue that his own lawyers reached the same conclusions as the Justice Department’s, and he will have a chance to defend his reputation. The dispute has put Mr. Maguire, a former Navy SEAL and three-star admiral, in a bind, caught between a duty to inform Congress and legal advice that said the complaint could not be handed over.
Impeachment fever keeps building in Congress.
House Democrats passed a significant milestone late Wednesday: 218 lawmakers, a majority of the House, are now on the record supporting an impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump’s behavior.
Though the number is not exactly predictive of how lawmakers might vote on actual articles of impeachment, it spoke to the growing consensus among Democrats that emerging details about Mr. Trump’s attempts to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to help tarnish a leading Democratic rival may reshape Mr. Trump’s presidency and the 116th Congress.
Democrats pledged to maintain their legislative work independent of the inquiry, but any cooperation with the White House could soon collapse as the specter of impeachment clouds out other topics.
Republicans have made clear that they believe Democrats are rushing prematurely into a grave proceeding, but several members of the president’s party who saw the classified complaint on Wednesday either called for its public release or said they were troubled by what they saw.
Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, emerged from reading the whistle-blower complaint on Wednesday evening and urged both parties not to rush to “partisan tribalism.” Republicans he said, “ought not be rushing to circle the wagons and say there’s no there there, when there’s obviously a lot that is troubling there.”