Foreign leaders could become more cautious when on the phone with American presidents following the release of the transcript of a July phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire said in a hearing before a House panel Thursday.
During questioning from lawmakers on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Maguire said both the "complicated and sensitive" nature of a whistleblower complaint on the call, and the release of the transcript itself, were "unprecedented." He cautioned that the release, which came amid House Democrats' impeachment inquiry against Trump over his alleged attempt to get Ukraine to investigate the Biden family, could have a chilling effect on what international leaders say in communications with American presidents.
“I think the president when he conducts diplomacy and deals with foreign heads of state, he has every right to be able to have that information be held within the White House and the executive branch," Maguire said under questioning from Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio. "I think that other future leaders when they interact with our head of state may be more cautious in what they say and reduce the interaction that they have with the president because of that release.”
Congressional Democrats had been clamoring for the text of the call between Trump and Zelensky after information about the whistleblower complaint first made its way to Capitol Hill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced the chamber would begin a formal impeachment inquiry Tuesday as reports surfaced that Trump --soon after putting a hold on $400 million worth of military aid to Ukraine--asked Zelensky to investigate Biden's son for alleged corruption while on the board of a Ukranian gas company.
"This week, the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically," she said. "Therefore, today, I'm announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. I'm directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella."
The Trump administration denied that there was a quid-pro-quo and released the transcript of the call on Wednesday, which confirms that Trump mentioned Joe Biden's son to Zelensky, but does not show an explicit offer of military aid in exchange for what would likely have been a politically advantageous investigation for Trump.
Democrats said the pressure was implicit while Trump tweeted after the transcript's release that his conversation with the Ukranian president was, "a perfect call."