The acting director of national intelligence threatened to resign over concerns that the White House might attempt to force him to stonewall Congress when he testifies today about a whistleblower complaint involving the president, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
The officials said that Joseph Maguire, who was thrust into the top intelligence post last month, warned the White House that he was not willing to withhold information from Congress, where he is scheduled to testify in open and closed hearings today. Maguire denied that he had done so.
In a statement, Maguire said that “at no time have I considered resigning my position since assuming this role on Aug. 16, 2019. I have never quit anything in my life, and I am not going to start now. I am committed to leading the Intelligence Community to address the diverse and complex threats facing our nation.”
The White House also disputed the account. “This is actually not true,” White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a tweet.
The current and former officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter, said Maguire had pushed the White House to make an explicit legal decision on whether it would assert executive privilege over the whistleblower complaint, which centers on a call that President Donald Trump made with the leader of Ukraine in late July.
Maguire has been caught in the middle of a fight between Congress and the executive branch over the contents of the whistleblower report since it reached his office late last month.
The rough contents of Trump’s call were released by the White House on Wednesday in a memo showing that Trump repeatedly asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to pursue investigations that might yield political dirt against Trump’s adversaries, including former Vice President Joe Biden. The matter has triggered an impeachment investigation against Trump.
Maguire became the acting director of national intelligence last month after the resignation of the previous director, Dan Coats, and after Trump’s refusal to allow the deputy director, Sue Gordon, to step into the senior job.
Since the whistleblower controversy began earlier this month, Maguire has been the target of criticism from Democratic lawmakers who accuse him of blocking the complaint from being transmitted to Congress.
Officials said Maguire has pursued the opportunity to meet with lawmakers to defend his actions and his integrity. In a public statement on the matter issued Tuesday evening, Maguire said, “In light of recent reporting on the whistleblower complaint, I want to make clear that I have upheld my responsibility to follow the law every step of the way.”
“I am committed to protecting whistleblowers and ensuring every complaint is handled appropriately,” Maguire added. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Administration and Congress to find a resolution regarding this important matter.”