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Marc Steiner: Welcome to The Real News. I'm Marc Steiner. Good to have you with us. In our continuing coverage of the potential impeachment of Donald Trump, we look at what transpired today in the House Intelligence Committee where the Director of National Intelligence, Admiral James Maguire testified. We have the release of the whistleblower's complaint today, the threats by Trump to the press, and the " at the United States mission office as well, and that was just released. The audio just came out. The anger at times for all but identify the whistleblower at The New York Times and what they just did, Adam Schiff, chair of the Intelligence Committee said that the whistleblower will be interviewed by the committee. The only complaint " Not only he wrote about Trump's attempted collusion with Ukraine to investigate Biden, but also said the White House officials intervenes locked down all records of the call, lest it slip out to the public.
This is only the beginning and today we talk with Ryan Cooper. Ryan Cooper is the national correspondent for the week and he joins us. Ryan, welcome. Good to have you with us.
Ryan Cooper: Thanks for having me.
Marc Steiner: Always a pleasure to have you here on The Real News. I just want to talk about the thing you wrote today which you focused on. The quotes you have from the report, the complaint that was filed. It said, "I have received information from multiple US government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign government in the 2020 US election." Then quoting, "Pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the president's main domestic political rivals." Talk a bit about, they put the complaint out today. And before we go to the hearing and hear what Admiral Maguire had to say, what is the significance of this since many people also argue, "Look, there's no smoking gun in this. He didn't hear anything, nobody saw anything." Can this really lead to impeachment or is it just going to be another fumbled football like the Mueller report in front of congress?
Ryan Cooper: I would say this is considerably more devastating than the Mueller report, because number one, this is not the only piece of evidence we have suggesting that this happened. There's also reporting from The Washington Post, The New York Times and others detailing this same story. And we have critically the memorandum which is not a transcript, described as a transcript, but it's really just a description of this call that the White House itself put out, which confirmed the basic account of the whistleblower. I saw some of the Trump hacks that The Federalist were saying, "Oh, this is hearsay and whatnot," but a whistleblower, it's not an investigation. He's just going through the official channels, which you are supposed to do according to the laws. If you see something improper, you're supposed to take it to the Inspector General and say, "Look, I saw this bad thing," and then you go through the chain of command and so on.
This is just one piece of evidence that just confirms what we already knew and they more or less already admitted to, that Trump has attempted to abuse his presidential powers, which are very extensive, to try to smear his top, at this moment at least, top political rival. So, it's bad.
Marc Steiner: And it could be bad. We'll see how this unravels. For this to really be bad, I guess in some ways, what this report alludes to, they're going to have to find people who actually admit to what happened and find and dO some serious investigative work to kind of say this actually happened. I mean, that's what I was alluding to when I said how this could end up.
Ryan Cooper: Yes. You would ideally want to get, according to the whistleblower they took the actual transcript of the call and moved it from the traditional presidential record keeping system to like the code word classified, like the very top level, most ultra classified document storage facility that there is. Who knows how that works exactly. But I would say again if you were thinking about this in a sort of traditional way, what Trump has already admitted to in that memorandum that they put out is I would say that's impeachable right there. He sets up the quid pro quo in saying that, "We would like to do some things for you, but first I would like you to do this." The suggestion is not even implied, he just says it.
So yeah, right. If you're going to do a proper investigation, you want to get every, bring in everybody. Let's find out who was on this call, who else was listening. Get every single one of those people in to testify. Find any documents you can. But it's pretty clear that this is what happened and all it takes now is to just sort of put all of the ducks in a row and have all the evidence you defined in one place.
Marc Steiner: Let's begin " I'm sorry, I didn't mean to stop you.
Ryan Cooper: No, go ahead.
Marc Steiner: Let's start, today obviously the meeting happened with Maguire, the head of the DNI. And let's take a look for a moment here at a clip of what he said during the hearing. It got a little adversarial at times, but clearly he's one of those guys I know from my experience in the past when you meet a lot of people and know a lot of people in the military, who feel like they have a lot of integrity. And people have said he would resign if he was not allowed to testify before congress. But let's just watch this one, you can comment on him and his testimony.
Admiral Maguire: I am committed to ensuring that all whistleblower complaints are handled appropriately and to protecting the rights of whistleblowers. In this case, the complainant raised a matter with the Intelligence Committee Inspector General. After reviewing the complaint and the Inspector General's transmittal letter, the Office of Legal Council determined that the complaint's allegations do not meet the statutory requirement definition concern, legal urgent concern.
Adam Schiff: You're aware that the practice of your office has been that regardless of whether the complaint meets the definition of urgent concern, regardless of whether the Inspector General finds it credible or incredible, the past practice has always been to give it to this committee. You're aware of that, right?
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