Fake News: Acting DNI Shoots Down WaPo Report About Threatened Resignation over Trump-Zelensky Call

Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire quickly dispelled a Washington Post report that he had threatened to resign if the White House did not allow him to testify openly about the whistleblower report regarding the July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky at the center of the Democrats' impeachment inquiry.

"Acting director of national intelligence threatened to resign if he couldn’t speak freely before Congress on whistleblower complaint," the Washington Post headline ran. The story quoted anonymous officials who said Maguire was in effect "serving notice that he intended to cooperate with lawmakers unless the White House moved forward with a legal case to prevent him from doing so."

Yet Maguire denied the report less than an hour after the Post published it. "At no time have I considered resigning my position since assuming this role," he told Fox News congressional reporter Chad Pergram. "I have never quit anything in my life and I am not going to start now. I am committed to leading the Intelligence Community to address the diverse and complex threats facing our nation."

Maguire is set to testify about a whistleblower complaint that the inspector general for the intelligence community said was of "urgent concern." Controversially, the acting DNI prevented the whistleblower complaint from being released to Congress in a move some experts have condemned as illegal.

Maguire defended his actions in a statement Tuesday. "I want to make clear that I have upheld my responsibility to follow the law every step of the way," he said. He also praised the whistleblower, adding, "the men and women of the Intelligence Community have a solemn responsibility to do what is right, which includes reporting wrongdoing."

The Washington Post report seemed to contradict the basic claims against Maguire. If the acting DNI refused to release the whistleblower complaint to congressional committees, why would he threaten to resign in order to be more forthcoming to Congress?

It seems the sources behind the false story may have been attempting to gin up more controversy over the whistleblower complaint to add some legitimacy to the impeachment inquiry.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cited the stonewalling of the whistleblower complaint in her announcement of an official impeachment inquiry. Democrats acted as though this alleged process violation rose to the level of abuse of power, but the White House will soon release a redacted version of the whistleblower complaint. As with the Washington Post story, it seems this trumped-up secrecy scandal may turn out to be fake news.

Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.