Pelosi says effort to “lock down” Ukraine call was a “cover-up”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi renewed her criticism of President Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president, saying in her weekly press conference Thursday that efforts by the White House to “lock down” information about the phone call showed that there had been a “cover up.”

Pelosi also criticized Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, who was simultaneously testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, saying that he “broke the law” by not passing along a whistleblower complaint regarding the call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Congress immediately after receiving it.

“I think what the DNI did was broke the law. The law is very clear. The DNI shall convey the complaint to the Intelligence Committee,” Pelosi said.

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In his opening statement before the Intelligence Committee, Maguire said that he did not immediately send the whistleblower’s complaint to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees because it contained information pertaining to a conversation by the president, which may have been subject to executive privilege. He acknowledged that he had contacted the White House Counsel after receiving the complaint to obtain its legal opinion on whether he could share it.

Maguire also said that his office had consulted with the Department of Justice, and included the inspector general in those discussions, to determine whether the complaint was an “urgent concern.” The Office of Legal Counsel for the Justice Department found the complaint did not amount to an urgent concern, because “the president is not a member of the intelligence community.” This meant, Maguire said, he was not legally obligated to pass on the complaint to the congressional intelligence committees.

The complaint was released to the public shortly before the beginning of the hearing. It raises concerns about White House efforts to restrict access to the records of the call. According to the complaint, “senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call,” and White House officials were “directed” to remove the electronic transcript from the computer system.

The complaint reported an “urgent concern” about Mr. Trump’s request for Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as how records of the call were handled and the role of Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, in the U.S. relationship with Ukraine.

In the complaint, the whistleblower wrote, “I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election. This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals.”

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