If President Donald Trump thought his handpicked choice to lead the nation’s intelligence community would unconditionally have his back before Congress, he discovered today he was sorely mistaken.
Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, was the first in what Democrats hope will be a line of Trump administration officials to testify in an investigation now officially pointed toward impeachment. And while the intelligence chief did not come close to denouncing the president, he made no effort to flatter him, either. He spent more than three hours testifying before a House committee trying in every which way to distance himself both from the White House and the explosive whistle-blower complaint that Democrats hauled him to Capitol Hill to discuss.
“I am not partisan, and I am not political,” Maguire said at the outset, as the former Navy vice admiral practically pleaded with lawmakers not to draw him into the scandal that prompted Speaker Nancy Pelosi to drop her long-standing opposition to pursuing Trump’s impeachment.
Maguire defended his own handling of the nine-page whistle-blower complaint, which landed on his desk 10 days after he started the job in mid-August and which the House Intelligence Committee released publicly just before this morning’s hearing began. But more consequentially for the president, Maguire defended the unnamed intelligence-community official who lodged the complaint, even as he repeatedly refused to judge the credibility of the allegations that were made.