Five notable moments from the whistleblower complaint hearing

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday on the whistleblower complaint that has become the center of an impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpUPS, FedEx shut down calls to handle mail-in ballots, warn of 'significant' problems: report Controversial GOP Georgia candidate attempts to distance from QAnon Trump orders TikTok parent company to sell US assets within 90 days MORE launched earlier this week.

The complaint, which was released to the public just minutes before Maguire began his testimony, details concerns about a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about Ukraine opening an investigation into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenOn The Money: Economists flabbergasted after Congress leaves with no deal | Markets rise as the economy struggles | Retail sales slow in July Congress exits with no deal, leaving economists flabbergasted Trump touts NYC police union endorsement: 'Pro-cop all the way' MORE, who is running for president, and Biden's son.

The complaint also raised concerns about "efforts to restrict access to records related to the call."


The White House's release of an edited version of the call transcript on Wednesday confirmed that Trump encouraged Zelensky to investigate Biden, and to coordinate with Trump's personal attorney and the attorney general to do so. Trump denies that he said anything improper on the call.

Thursday's hearing focused on the handling of the whistleblower complaint, which reached the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI)  in August but was not immediately sent to Congress because of concerns it may have been covered by executive privilege.

Here are the five most notable moments from the roughly three hour long testimony:

Maguire calls the complaint "unprecedented"

“I am aware that this is unprecedented,” Maguire said of a president's involvement in such a whistleblower complaint. “This has never happened before. This is a unique situation.”

While defending the month-plus that elapsed between the whistleblower complaint being delivered to his office and provided to Congress, Maguire said that Trump's centrality to the complaint means it did not fit the legal definition of "urgent" because he is not a member of the intelligence community.

Maguire also noted during his testimony that a DNI had never testified to the public about whistleblower complaints.

While he generally declined to comment on the content of the complaint, Maguire did say he trusted the judgement of intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson who initially found it to be both credible and an urgent concern. 

GOP member says Trump-Zelensky call was "not OK"

Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) became one of the few Republicans to openly criticize Trump's conduct in the conversation with Zelensky when he on Thursday called it "not OK."

"I've read the complaint and I've read the transcript of the conversation with the president and the president of the Ukraine. Concerning that conversation, I want to say to the president: This is not OK. That conversation is not OK. And I think it's disappointing to the American public when they read the transcript," Turner said.

The majority of Republicans have defended Trump's conduct, dismissing the impeachment inquiry from House Democrats and arguing that the call did not include an explicit quid pro quo linking a Biden investigation to military assistance.

Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdHillicon Valley: 'Fortnite' owner sues Apple after game is removed from App Store | Federal agencies seize, dismantle cryptocurrency campaigns of major terrorist organizations Lawmakers introduce bill designating billion to secure state and local IT systems Democrats go big on diversity with new House recruits MORE (R-Texas), a former intelligence officer who is retiring from Congress at the end of the term, also raised concerns about the complaint in a tweet before the hearing.

"There is a lot in the whistleblower complaint that is concerning. We need to fully investigate all of the allegations addressed in the letter, and the first step is to talk to the whistleblower," he wrote.

Maguire defends the whistleblower


Although the identity of the whistleblower is not known beyond them being a member of the intelligence committee, they have already been the subject of criticism from Trump.

The president has claimed that the whistleblower was a "political hack job."

Maguire defended the whistleblower's conduct during Thursday's testimony.

"I think the whistleblower did the right thing," Maguire told the committee, adding that they followed the whistleblower statute every step of the way.

Later on he expressed his support of the whistleblower, deeming his complaint "credible" and "important" while stating that he does not know the identity of the individual.

Maguire stressed several times that his job is to protect to members of the intelligence community, and promised that if they choose to testify the whistleblower could do so without restrictions from the White House.

Republicans accuse Democrats of attacking Maguire

Rep. Chris StewartChristopher (Chris) Douglas StewartAtlanta Wendy's 911 call the night of Rayshard Brooks's death released Tyler Perry offers to pay for funeral of Rayshard Brooks Current, former NHL players form diversity coalition to fight intolerance in hockey MORE (R-Utah) took time during his questioning to defend Maguire from what he deemed efforts to discredit the acting DNI coming from Democrats.

"I'm not going to treat you like a child and I'm going to give you a chance to answer questions if I ask you something," Stewart said at the beginning of his time.

"I don't think they realize how deeply offensive it is to have your honor and your integrity questioned. Some on this committee have done exactly that, they have accused you of breaking the law," he added, before reading a portion of committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffNewsom says he has already received a number of pitches for Harris's open Senate seat Here's who could fill Kamala Harris's Senate seat if she becomes VP Democrats ramp up warnings on Russian election meddling MORE's (D-Calif.) opening statement.

Other Republicans noted that in the political environment it is easy for someone with decades of experience as a career civil servant to have their reputation dragged through the mud.

Schiff, in response to Republicans criticizing his rhetoric, told Maguire that "no one is suggesting there is a dishonor here."

Maguire pressed on timing of complaint release

A large portion of the Democratic questioning of Maguire focused on the gap between the complaint being delivered to his office by Atkinson and it reaching the hands of lawmakers.

Maguire gave two defenses of the delay of the release: that Trump not being a member of the intelligence committee means the complaint did not fit the legal definition of "urgent," a position reached by the Justice Department, and that there were concerns the complaint may have been covered by executive privilege.

Rep. Jim HimesJames (Jim) Andres HimesMany Democrats want John Bolton's testimony, but Pelosi stays mum SEC's Clayton demurs on firing of Manhattan US attorney he would replace Democrats face tough questions with Bolton MORE (D-Conn.) pressed Maguire on why the complaint remained under wraps even after a Sept. 17 subpoena from the House Intelligence Committee.

“The decision was taken to defy a subpoena of this Congress,” he said. “Who made the decision to defy that subpoena of Sept. 17? Somebody said we will not abide by that subpoena.”

“Nobody did,” Maguire responded, saying that the disclosure of the complaint “is a very deliberate process, and finally it came to a head yesterday. ... It may have taken longer than you would have liked but you have the information.”

Maguire added that he had asked Schiff for an extra week to deliberate whether he had the authority or obligation to release the complaint.