Published: Wed, June 19, 2019

White House bars former Trump aide from answering questions about her work

White House bars former Trump aide from answering questions about her work

It is unknown Hicks will answer numerous committee's questions related to her time at the White House, however.

At Wednesday's closed hearing, Hicks is expected to face questions from Democrats about at least five episodes detailed in the Mueller report that she had knowledge of or had witnessed first-hand, the aide said.

Cipollone said Hicks, as one of Trump's former senior advisers, is "absolutely immune" from compelled testimony with respect to her service to the president because of the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. But given the White House orders, it is unclear how much new information Hicks will provide.

The move by the White House to prevent another former official from answering questions by claiming "absolute immunity" further infuriated Democratic members, who accused the White House of committing obstruction of justice and threatened to enforce the committee's subpoena for Hicks' testimony by taking the matter to court.

Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the panel's top Republican, said Democrats seem to be gearing up "a summer of reruns", rehashing and "relitigating" matters already explored in greater depth by Mueller.

Hicks is the first testimony they will hear from someone linked to Trump's inner circle since the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report, as the White House has broadly stonewalled their investigations.

Cipollone said in his letter that the White House may also assert executive privilege in response to some questions about Hicks' stint on the presidential transition team.

Reportedly, she is refusing to answer many questions.

Lawmakers also wanted to ask Hicks about former national security adviser Michael Flynn's ouster, the president's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, his efforts to thwart special counsel Robert Mueller's almost two-year investigation and a meeting at Trump Tower in the summer of 2016 that included Mr. Trump's son, Donald Trump, Jr., top campaign officials and a Russian lawyer Trump Jr. thought had damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Nadler said a transcript of Hicks' Wednesday testimony will be made public.

"Because of this constitutional immunity, and in order to protect the prerogatives of the Office of President, the President has directed Ms. Hicks not to answer questions before the Committee relating to the time of her services as a senior adviser to the President", Cipollone wrote, adding that Hicks previously testified before the House and Senate Intelligence committees under similar circumstances.


Democrats said they may have to go to court to force Hicks to respond as the White House continues its strategy of not cooperating with investigations in the Democratic-led House of Representatives.

Trump used his Twitter account to chastise the Democrats, saying, "So sad that the Democrats are putting wonderful Hope Hicks through hell, for 3 years now, after total exoneration by Robert Mueller & the Mueller Report".

"Questions will be posed to her and we will address privilege and other objections on question by question basis", Nader said.

Despite the closed setting, Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, view Hicks' appearance as a breakthrough for their congressional investigation, which could trigger impeachment proceedings against the president if it unearths evidence of serious misconduct.

While Trump has continued to block their requests, Democrats have made some minor gains in recent weeks with Hicks' appearance and the Justice Department's agreeing to make some underlying evidence from Mueller's report available to committee members.

The House Judiciary Committee is fighting a similar battle with former White House counsel Don McGahn, who did not appear under subpoena after the White House directed him not to answer questions about his time in the administration with a similar claim of immunity from congressional testimony.

And she reportedly told President Trump his son's emails "will never get out".

Hicks was subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee in May. She was, however, allowed speak about her time on the Trump campaign.

Democrats have also asked her about Trump's role in a hush money payment to a porn actress during the campaign. It also described numerous attempts by Trump to impede Mueller's investigation but stopped short of declaring that he committed a crime.

Mueller's 448-page report found insufficient evidence to establish that the Trump campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Moscow, despite numerous contacts between the campaign and Russian Federation.

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