President Donald Trump’s communications director Hope Hicks admitted to the House Intelligence Committee that she lies on behalf of President Donald Trump — but not on substantive issues.
However, if the issues were so unsubstantial, why bother lying about them in the first place?
The comments came during nearly 9 hours of closed-door testimony as part of the investigation into Russian hacking in the 2016 election. The communications director was pressed if she ever lied for Trump and Hicks reportedly stated it was a part of her job requirement to sometimes maintain “white lies” for the president, according to The New York Times.
However, she insisted she did not lie about material matters relating to the Russian investigation and the Kremlin’s possible links to Trump’s cronies, according to sources present at the testimony.
Initially, Hicks refused to answer any questions at all related to Trump’s transition or about her time in the White House. But after she got the go-ahead from the Trump administration, Hicks answered “many” questions about the transition period, according to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the intelligence committee. And the communications director only agreed to do that because she had answered them previously before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Schiff asserted there were transition questions that Hicks did not address during the previous testimony that will have to be answered now. There were also questions related to her time in the White House; however, Hicks flatly refused to answer those, claiming she was told by the White House to remain mum on the subject.
One of the subjects that Hicks refused to discuss was her role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. But most importantly, she did not talk about her involvement in fabricating a misleading statement from Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., relating to a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower.
“All of our questions about what went into that statement went unanswered,” Schiff said, calling her refusal to answer “executive stonewalling.”
The Democrats reportedly insisted the committee subpoena Hicks “on the spot” to compel her testimony, but committee Republicans refused.
Hicks did not invoke executive privilege but said she was told by the White House not to answer.
The communications director is the most recent top Trump official who has declined to answer question concerning the events after the 2016 election. Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump’s one-time campaign manager Corey Lewandowski — whom Hicks was reportedly dating — have employed the same strategy during their testimony before the House.
When Bannon appeared before the committee in January 2018, and declined to answer, he was hit with subpoena during his dialogue. At that time, Republicans said Bannon’s claim to invoke executive privilege during the transition did not have merit. But they said, Hicks’ case was different because she answered some questions about the presidential transition.
“Mr. Bannon was claiming a privilege based on the transition that we were asking what the privilege was and we weren't comfortable that there was such a privilege,” said Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.). “Since she has decided to answer questions based on that transition, she cannot be compared to Mr. Bannon, so it's not the same.”
As an omnipresent part of Trump’s inner sanctum throughout his presidential campaign and during his presidency, Hicks is viewed by many investigators as an invaluable witness. She appears to have direct knowledge of a number of key events, which have shaped Trump’s White House, including being a witness to the Air Force One meeting, where Trump Jr.’s statement was crafted.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: Reuters/Leah Millis