House members exiting today’s closed-door interview said Hope Hicks wouldn’t answer questions as basic as where she sat in the West Wing or whether she told the truth to Mueller https://t.co/Vm3v2fVhJ2 pic.twitter.com/RyGoMjZaxY
— POLITICO (@politico) June 19, 2019
Courtesy of NYT:
After weeks of simmering frustration, House Democrats took their first shot on Wednesday at questioning a key figure from Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into whether President Trump obstructed justice. They were not entirely happy with the results.
Behind closed doors, lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee pressed Hope Hicks, one of Mr. Trump’s closest former aides, on her recollections of episodes documented by Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, in which Mr. Trump tried to assert control over investigations of his campaign’s ties to Russian election interference. They also resurrected an older accusation against Mr. Trump: the president’s role in an illegal scheme to make hush payments to two women during his 2016 campaign.
But if the hearing had the potential to kick-start Democrats’ stalled investigations into Mr. Trump, it quickly veered toward an increasingly familiar outcome. Under the direction of White House and her private lawyers, Ms. Hicks declined to answer questions about her time working in the administration and on the presidential transition, citing instructions from the president that she was “absolutely immune” from answering, lawmakers from both parties said.
She even refused, Democrats said, to identify the location of her West Wing office. But Ms. Hicks did engage in queries about her work on the campaign, which is not subject to executive privilege or claims of immunity. The Judiciary Committee said it intended to release a full transcript of the interview within 48 hours.
Democrats were displeased, if not altogether surprised. Even as the interview went on, several lawmakers emerged threatening to take Ms. Hicks to court to enforce a subpoena for her full testimony.
Congressional Democrats were frustrated by HIcs stonewalling.
Question: “So they’re preventing [Hope Hicks] from talking about anything?”
— The Hill (@thehill) June 19, 2019
Courtesy of Politico:
“It’s a farce,” added Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who said Hicks at one point tried to answer a question about an episode involving former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski only to be cut off by the White House counsel.
“She made clear she wouldn’t answer a single question about her time unless the White House counsel told her it was okay,” an exasperated Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) said in an interview. “She couldn’t even characterize her testimony to the special counsel.”
Deutch added that the White House was not formally asserting executive privilege to block Hicks from answering certain questions; rather, the lawyer was referring to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone’s Tuesday letter claiming that Hicks was “absolutely immune” from discussing her tenure in the Trump administration.
Lieu said the White House lawyers were “making crap up” to block Hicks from testifying. He said she answered some questions about her time on the Trump campaign that provided new information, but he declined to characterize her comments.
Jayapal said lawyers even objected to Hicks discussing episodes that occurred after she left the White House — and that Hicks went along with it.
“She is making a choice to follow along with all the claims of absolute immunity,” Jayapal said, adding, “Basically, she can say her name.”
The transcript for this farce will be available in the next few days.
At least we can then see exactly which questions Hicks WAS willing to answer.