The New York Times and other media outlets, citing anonymous sources, recently reported that the Department of Justice inquiry into the origins of the Russia investigation has “shifted” from an administrative review to a criminal investigation.
The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are both contemplating testimony from the intelligence community officer who first brought to light President Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. But requiring the whistleblower to testify is both unnecessary and unwise.
More information is coming out in the media about the whistleblower complaint that Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire blocked the inspector general of the intelligence community (ICIG) from transmitting to the congressional intelligence committees. If the speculation is accurate, Maguire’s actions, and the legal defense of those actions by Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) General Counsel Jason Klitenic, may have a firmer legal foundation than has so far been apparent.
Last week saw an important development in the continuing erosion of governmental checks and balances. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff subpoenaed Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire and wrote a blistering letter accusing Maguire of violating the law by withholding a whistleblower’s complaint from the Intelligence Committee.
It’s recently been announced that Alex Joel, who has served as the civil liberties protection officer in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) for 14 years, is leaving the ODNI. I had the privilege of working closely with Alex, and learning from him, during some turbulent times for the intelligence community. At a time when the intelligence community is under attack, it is appropriate to honor Alex as an exemplar of the dedicated public servants who work in U.S. intelligence agencies.
Jack Goldsmith’s defense of Attorney General Barr’s handling of the Mueller report is typically thoughtful but ultimately unpersuasive. While certain aspects of Barr’s behavior could be defensible if they stood alone, taken as a whole his course of conduct—what he said, how he said it and what he didn’t say—shows that Barr is not merely “defen[ding] the presidency” institutionally, as Goldsmith argues, but defending this particular president politically.
The prevailing take on Attorney General William Barr’s letter to Congress on the Mueller report is summed up in the New York Times: “The investigation ... found no evidence that President Trump or any of his aides coordinated with the Russian government’s 2016 election interference.” But a careful reading of Barr’s letter suggests that that may be wrong.