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Andrew Harnik/AP
Andrew Harnik/AP

In an exchange with Democratic Rep. Denny Heck, Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire said that if a president pressured a foreign government for help winning an election, it would be “unwarranted,” “unwelcome” and “bad for the nation.”

He did not, however, say if it was illegal.

Here’s the full exchange:

Heck: Director, whether it’s this President or any president, do you believe it is OK for the president of the United States to pressure a foreign country into helping him or her win an election?

Maguire: Congressman Heck, I believe that no one is above the law. And we’ve discussed what we think applies to the law. 

Heck: So it is illegal to solicit?

Maguire: No I can’t answer that, again sir—

Heck: I can’t reconcile your two statements. Is it ok for a president to pressure, any president, to pressure a foreign government for help to win an election?

Maguire: It is unwarranted, it is unwelcome, it is bad for the nation, to have outside interference, any foreign power—

Heck: Thank you. And by extension, it would be equally unacceptable to extort that assistance as well?

Maguire: I mean, all I know is that I have the transcripts as you have. I have the whistleblower complaint as you have. And—

Heck: I wasn’t referring to the whistleblower complaint, but if any president were to do this, and I accept your answer. I think it’s beyond unacceptable, director.

Maguire: Yes sir.

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