I listened to almost every minute of the testimony of Joseph Maguire, Acting DNI. I say almost every minute because in the middle of his testimony my male cats (five of them) not only caught a snake in the garage and mutilated him, they then dragged the wretched being through the kitty door and into the main house. Fortunately, the poor victim was only a rat snake, but the intentional, pre-meditated homicide caused considerable frenzy and alarm.
These are a few of my observations about Maguire:
- In his opening statement, Maguire tried mightily to play for sympathy and lenience by publicly detailing his long military career and pointing out the fact that after working in a private sector job, he went to work for a charity. All of it was self-serving, self-dramatizing and irrelevant to the matter at hand.
- In the self-dramatizing category, Maguire, for example, said that when he took off his uniform for the last time, it was the first time in years nobody in his family was wearing the “cloth of the nation.” Now, maybe this is a common expression among military people, but to me it sounds like trying to literally cloak yourself with pretentions to some kind of priesthood.
- Maguire’s appeal to amnesty on the basis of his military record not surprisingly fit right into the themes used by the Republicans on the Committee. Several of the Republicans implied that it was outrageous for the committee to be questioning someone who had such a distinguished military career. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. Military service does not absolve you of responsibility, nor does it make you beyond question. The Republican certainly didn’t think John Kerry’s military service made him beyond smearing. Nor did Donald Trump think John McCain was beyond smearing.
- Related to this convenient fit between Maguire’s opening statement and the Republican talking points, it was obvious that Maguire had been coached. He used the same amoral tactics of obfuscation taught to right-wing operatives. You can see this illustrated any time one of them comes on cable news. He refused to directly answer any of the questions asked by the Democrats. When asked a clear question, he gave the answer to another question, or just blabbed on and on about something else without ever addressing the question. Even if he was going to eventually agree with the substance of a question, he would rephrase what was asked rather than give a yes, no answer.
- In fact, Denny Heck (D. Washington) agreed on MSNBC with Chris Hayes that Maguire’s testimony was “part of the cover up.” “He contorted himself to rationalize his position,” Heck added, but it was part of the cover up.
- One answer will give an indication of how convoluted Maguire’s testimony was and his determination to avoid directly answering any question from the Democrats. When asked by Schiff whether he knew if Giuliani had a security clearance, Maguire said: “I am neither aware or unaware of whether or not Mr. Giuliani has a security clearance.”
- Further, in his testimony, Maguire repeatedly denied that he failed to supply the Committee with the complaint. Instead, he said that he “delayed” providing it. This reminds me of embezzlers who often claim that they “borrowed” the money.
- Maguire also tried mightily to elicit sympathy for himself by whining about his short time on the job. I’m sorry, but this won’t work. It’s like saying: “I’m sorry I ran under fire, but I had just taken command of the company.”
- He also claimed an extraordinary level of ignorance about what was going on around him. He seriously claimed that he 1) did not know whether Giuliani had a security clearance, 2) did not have any idea what Giuliani was up to (the only thing he knew came off the television) and 3) that he never had a discussion with Trump about Ukraine. What exactly was the Director of National Intelligence doing?
- And, after spending a great deal of time in his opening statement touting his military credentials, he demonstrated a shocking attitude toward his own responsibilities. He said that when confronted with a difficult decision, he immediately ran to the White House to ask for their advice on how he would proceed. He kept using over and over the rationale that what he did was “prudent.” Not wise, not just, not responsible, not right, but “prudent.” Well, I suppose it’s always prudent to go to your boss and find out what he wants you to do and do it, but that’s not exactly what the military says it teaches its members to do. Maguire’s Military Rules: When the going gets tough, hide behind your superiors.
- Maguire also demonstrated his courageous attitude about doing his job by saying that he believed that Dan Coats didn’t know anything about the whistle blower’s complaint. He testified that had Coats told him about the complaint, he wouldn’t have taken the job. That’s like saying: If I had known how hard this battle was going to be, I wouldn’t have accepted the command.
- At another point, Maguire spent ten minutes trying not to answer a straightforward question from Adam Shiff about whether he contacted the White House or the Justice Department first about the whistle blower complaint. After trying for ten minutes to not to say he contacted the White House first, he finally admitted he contacted the White House first.
- Maguire also claimed that ‘ANY’ conversation he had with the President was confidential and privileged, refusing to acknowledge even when pressed by Schiff that executive privilege does not shield illegal acts. Maguire places himself squarely with Barr and the Federalist society in claiming absolute privilege to any communication with the president.
- Barr and the Federalist Society have long provided legal sounding but unhinged legal reasoning to legitimate authoritarian and fascist government. That’s exactly what they did for Maguire.
- Maguire had a law in front of him that said the DNI “shall” provide the complaint to Congress. He didn’t do so, instead, sought advice on how to interpret the word “shall” from the subject of the complaint, the White House.
- I too think that Maguire’s testimony was part of the cover-up and Maguire is not any credit to the military or what it professes to believe in or teach.