Joseph Maguire is the acting Director of National Intelligence and former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center. He’s currently at the center of tense showdown between Congress and the U.S. Intelligence Community because of his refusal to turn over a whistleblower complaint to congress regarding a conversation between President Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Per the Washington Post, Trump’s interaction included a “promise” to President Zelensky that was “regarded as so troubling that it prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community.”
Inspector general for the U.S. Intelligence Community Michael Atkinson received the complaint in August and deemed it credible and of “urgent concern”. He alerted House and Senate intelligence committees in September as he was legally required to do and briefed lawmakers on the complaint privately on Thursday but reportedly left out key details.
Maguire received the complaint from Atkinson two weeks after it was submitted and was legally required to turn it over to congress within 7 days but refused after speaking to officials at the Justice Department. Congressional Democrats accused him of protecting Trump while his defenders say he is only following legal advice from Justice Department officials.
Maguire defended his refusal by saying that the subject of the complaint is beyond his jurisdiction. Jim Himes, a Democratic congressman from Connecticut, told the MSNBC that Maguire “broke the law when he decided to basically intercept the inspector general’s report to Congress”.
The former Navy SEAL is currently trapped in a legal predicament and has reportedly made it clear to the White House and Justice Department that he does not like the position he’s been put in.
Rep. Adam Schiff, head of the House Intelligence Committee, issued a subpoena that ordered Maguire to turn over the complaint and testify before congress. Maguire’s office warned that the complaint involved “potentially privileged” matters and Maguire initially declined saying he was unavailable. He has since agreed to testify and will appear before the committee next week.
Maguire assumed the role of acting Director of National Intelligence last month. He was previously nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed as the sixth Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) in December 2018.
He was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and graduated from Manhattan College with Bachelor of Science degree in 1974. He is married to his wife Kathy and they have two children, a daughter, Catherine, who lives in Tampa, FL and a son, Dan, who lives in Chicago.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Joseph Maguire Was a Navy Seal
Prior to his career in Intelligence, Maguire spent 36 years in the Navy as a Naval Special Warfare Officer. He served as a Navy SEAL and spent two years commanding SEAL Team TWO from 1992 to 1994. Maguire moved on to become the Flag Lieutenant to Commander Amphibious Forces Seventh Fleet (CTF 76) and served in the Bureau of Navy Personnel as the Naval Special Warfare’s Assignment Officer and Community Manager.
He eventually became Commander of the Navy Special Warfare Development and oversaw eight Navy SEAL teams, and three special boat teams and their support units while the United States was engaged in two wars.
2. He Wasn’t Trump’s First Choice for Director of the National Intelligence
Prior to Maguire become acting Director, President Trump tried to nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) who eventually dropped out after facing stiff opposition from both Republicans and Democrats over his lack of experience and exaggerated record on intelligence matters. In addition, he was a vocal critic of Robert Mueller’s investigation and supported of President Trump.
Ratcliffe was not expecting the confirmation fight and lack of support from Republicans. “I was humbled and honored that the President put his trust in me to lead our nation’s intelligence operations and remain convinced that when confirmed, I would have done so with the objectivity, fairness and integrity that our intelligence agencies need and deserve,” Ratcliffe said on Twitter.
After Director Dan Coats left, his deputy Sue Gordon was expected to take over. She resigned after learning that Trump intended to pick a different nominee.
Maguire was a safe, experienced choice that put critics’ minds at ease after some controversial appointments from the Trump White House.
“Joe is the best choice for an insider right now to bring some stability,” Michael Leiter, Maguire’s former boss at the National Counterterrorism Center, told POLITICO at the time. ”Everyone should feel reassured that one thing Joe is not is a political hack.”
3. He Was CEO of a Non-Profit
Maguire left his position as Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton to become CEO of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides college scholarships and educational counseling to the surviving children of fallen special operations personnel, and immediate financial grants to severely combat-wounded and hospitalized special operations personnel and their families.
He served as the President and CEO of the foundation until being confirmed as Director of the National Counterterrorism Center in 2018.
4. He Said the Most Immediate Threat to the United States “Is from Homegrown Violent Extremists”
In his Statement for the Record to Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during his nomination for Director, National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), Maguire said wrote that the “most immediate threat is from homegrown violent extremists, especially as extremist propaganda encourages simple tactics with readily available weapons that do not require specialized training and present fewer opportunities for law enforcement detection.”
He went on to say the homegrown violent extremists are geographically dispersed across the U.S. and underscored the “importance of NCTC and its partners sharing information and collaborating with stakeholders across the country at federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal levels, as well as the private sector.”
5. He Comes from a Long Line of Soldiers & Police Officers
Maguire’s father was a combat infantryman in World War II who went on to serve in the Army Reserve following the war and eventually retired as a colonel after 30 years of service.
Both of his brothers served in the Navy. His brother, Ben, was also a career naval officer.
In addition, his grandfather, godfather, and cousins were all New York City policemen.