White House Communications Director Hope Hicks has joined a long and distinguished line of current and former Trump administration officials or informal advisors who’ve refused to discuss their interactions with the president with a Congressional committee or its investigators.
According to CNN and CBS, which “somehow” had the story just hours after Hicks concluded her closed-door meeting, Hicks refused to answer questions about her time in the White House or during the transition. She met with the House Intelligence Committee to deliver private testimony on Tuesday, arriving mid-morning to encounter a swarm of reporters waiting outside.
JUST IN: Trump aide Hope Hicks arrives on Capitol Hill for questions in the House Intel Committee’s Russia investigation pic.twitter.com/gfdE80W1FD
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 27, 2018
Hours into her testimony, Hicks reportedly started refusing to answer questions when the subject drifted from the campaign – the focus of the investigation – to her time during the transition and at the White House.
“She’s answered every possible question on the campaign,” said Rep. Peter King, R-New York, though he said questions about her time on the transition or in the White House were apparently off the table.
“We got Bannoned,” said Democratic Rep. Denny Heck.
Republican Rep. Tom Rooney told CBS Hicks was forthcoming about her time on the campaign, but said it was a “legitimate concern” whether any witness could invoke privilege with regard to the transition period. “Those questions need to be answered,” he said.
Bannon famously fought with both the House Intel Committee and the Mueller probe, eventually only answering a list of 25 questions issued by the committee that was “literally scripted,” according to Adam Schiff, the top Dem on the Committee.
Former Trump campaign manager Lewandowski refused to answer questions outside of the campaign, CBS noted. It’s unclear if Hicks’ refusal will become an issue, or if lawmakers will more or less let it slide.
Hicks was initially scheduled for the sit down in January, but abruptly postponed it as White House lawyers figured out what the scope of her testimony should be.
Lawmakers particularly want to hear about any contact campaign officials may have had with Russian intermediaries, and were also interested in Hicks’ account of the drafting of the White House’s initial statement, drafted aboard Air Force One, responding to press reports of a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Russians and Trump campaign officials, which, of course, took place last spring, not during the campaign.
Hicks has already been questioned by Mueller’s team and the Senate Intelligence Committee.