Crazy Day Number Three: Whistleblower Complaint Release; DNI Joseph McGuire Testifies [And Updates]

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Ukraine, Trump & Administration, Trump ImpeachmentLeave a Comment

The whistleblower complaint has been released, and it alleged what we already know about (Trump’s attempt to get Ukraine to investigate Biden), plus more. It talks about how the White House handled records of the conversation and perhaps other conversations. Essentially, the complaint alleges that the White House would “lock down” words of the transcript.

The whistle-blower, moreover, identified multiple White House officials as witnesses to potential presidential misconduct who could corroborate the complaint, adding that the inspector general for the intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, interviewed witnesses.

Here it is:

The complaint confirms that perhaps dozens of U.S. officials were witnesses to the conduct and or helped enable it. Schiff notes: “This complaint is a road map for our investigation, and provides significant information for the Committee to follow up on with other witnesses and documents. And it is corroborated by the call record released yesterday.”

The complaint says:

  • “More than a half dozen” officials provided information to the whistleblower
  • “Multiple White House officials” confided in the whistleblower about the call
  • “Approximately a dozen” White House officials listened to the July 25 call; “multiple” White House officials told him the transcript had been moved to a protected computer system to avoid its discovery
  • U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and U.S. special representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker gave advice to the Ukrainians as to how to deal with Trump (making these officials witnesses, if not participants, in the scheme)
  • The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was recalled apparently as a result of a Ukrainian official (whose patron was an anti-reformer and opponent of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky) who demanded to talk to Attorney General William P. Barr about the arrangement
  • And multiple State Department officials tried to “contain the damage” from Giuliani’s activities.

Giuliani refuted claims included in the complaint that two State Department officials had spoken to him to “contain the damage” he was doing to US national security interests regarding his work with Ukraine.”At no time did either one of them say they wanted to contain damage,” Giuliani told CNN. “At no time did the State Department in communication with me ever relay any of that information you’re talking about.”Giuliani also said he had a “nice little trail” of text message conversations with the top US diplomat to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, to prove his story.

Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe tweets: “The massive White House coverup of Trump’s abuse of power vis-a-vis Ukraine & Biden, including evidence concealment, is now clearly documented. Bill Barr is up to his eyebrows in the criminal conspiracy. He’s Trump’s John Mitchell. Mitchell ended up in prison. It’s all unraveling.”

Read p. 5, fn. 9. Remember AG Barr’s “investigation” into the origins of FBI’s Russia probe, and appointment is US Attorney John Durham to go the same? Complaint says Giuliani has been gathering information for this (WTF?!?!?!) The proper channels are DOJ-State-US Embassy-Legal Attaché-Ukrainian law enforcement. Why is Rudy running around gathering evidence for an official DOJ investigation?!?!? He is not the FBI. He’s not a gov employee. Was Barr planning on using his dubious info????

Then there is this:

I would love to hear all the people who insisted the call was a nothingburger express a view on why Trump’s own staff immediately panicked that they had clearly witnessed an abuse of office.

The plan was clear when they learned of whistleblower complaint.

1) Argue that the complaint did not fall under jurisdiction of ODNI (and therefore ICIG) so cannot go to Congress;
2) Ground legal reasoning in statutory and agency function, rather than Art. II, to avoid possible standing issues with respect to Congress;
3) Tell IG proper channel is to submit criminal referral to DOJ;
4) Have criminal referrals blocked via Barr.

Voila! Complaint (they think) never sees light of day and no one is the wiser. This whole bureaucratic shenanigan is just another layer of the cover up and should be investigated as well.

Trump is taking this well:

Stand together, Republicans. Really trying to shore up support early on.

All morning DNI Joseph McGuire has been testifying before the House Intelligence Committee.

He does not seem like a bright guy. Democrats are asking him about why the whistleblower complaint was withheld even though the statute required (“shall transmit”) him to send it to Congress.

Admittedly, the DNI was in a tough position. He was in unprecedented situation and the complaint does implicate Art. II duties (though as noted above, OLC does not utilize these grounds in its reasoning not to forward complaint). But one option for the DNI to cover both his bases and not go to conflicted attorneys was take matter to the DOJ IG.

The DNI says he went to THE WHITE HOUSE UPON RECEIVING COMPLAINT. The complaint is ABOUT THE WHITE HOUSE. This is like asking the terrorist whether he thinks he should be investigated.

But he keeps saying this situation was “unprecedented.” When narrow thinkers reach an unknown, they revert to familiar patterns. For a military man like McGuire, that means going up the chain of command. No law says Exec employees have to go to OLC.

The DNI relies on executive privilege but then admits there was no assertion of executive privilege. Yet he missed the deadline for turning over the complaint. He says he’s not authorized to waive executive privilege. But he’s not authorized to assert it either.

Devin Nunes is making an ass of himself, showing concern about LEAKS to the press about what the whistleblower complaint was about. I don’t think this line of questioning is going the way that Nunes expected. The acting DNI is making it clear that leaks could have come from WH officials or others in the federal government, not the intelligence community.

The DNI says he went to the White House Office of Legal Counsel to ask about privilege. However, once the White House decided not to assert privilege, he was free to forward the complaint. The OLC has no place to use that opportunity to substitute the Intelligence Community IG’s determination of urgent, and by statute, the DNI was not obligated to follow it.

Rep. Sewell suggests whistleblowers may be deterred by perception that they follow all the rules, but the DOJ can swoop in to kill the complaint. Maguire: “I don’t disagree with what you said.”

Rep. Turner trying to say complaint reveals an “abuse of surveillance.” There was no surveillance by IC on the call. Turner’s remarks here are off base. Reporting of abuses by whistleblowers is not limited to surveillance, this is certainly not a case where the information reported was derived from “surveillance,” and misuse of the classification system (if nothing else) surely qualifies.

The argument that “credible” is not the same as “proven true” must be in the talking points email that the White House sent out to GOP this morning, because it is coming out a lot.

Whatever Maguire may have improperly done withholding the whistleblower report for an executive privilege review, (1) his defense is plausible; and more importantly (2) literally no one cares about his potential wrongdoing relative to literally a dozen things in the actual report.

Maguire keeps using the referral of the complaint about the President to the DOJ for criminal investigation as a shield. Two things: criminal investigations are kept secret even from Congress – no criminal investigation of the President can result in a prosecution, per DOJ policy.

Asked about whether he talked directly to the President about the whistleblower, DNI invokes executive privilege. He is reminded that the content of the discussion is not being asked about, but he continues to invoke executive privilege.

If Maguire spoke directly to POTUS about the complaint — and it sounds like he did — that is super bad and I can’t see a justification.


Yup. We’re in phase 3 of the GOP strategy:

GOP Plan A: Deny that the President committed an act.
GOP Plan B: Admit that the President committed the act, but deny that it was wrong.
GOP Plan C: Admit that he did it and it was wrong, but say the real criminal is the person who brought the information to light.


“His complaint suggested he was an analyst by training with an understanding of Ukrainian politics.”

So I guess he or she is outed, pretty much.