Administration

White House tried to apply executive privilege to former aide's testimony: report

The White House reportedly tried to limit what a former top Trump aide on European and Russian affairs could say to Congress this week in a closed-door congressional hearing as part of Democrats' impeachment inquiry against the president.

According to letters obtained by NBC News, the White House did not try to block Fiona Hill, a former special assistant to President Trump, from testifying on Monday, but it told her lawyer about four areas that could constitute executive privilege.

Those four areas included direct communications with Trump, diplomatic communications, meetings with other heads of state and staffing Trump had on calls with foreign heads of state, NBC News reports.

On Sunday, Hill's lawyers reportedly wrote in a letter to the White House that executive privilege didn't apply to the topics because some of the related information had already been made public, adding that executive privilege doesn't apply to situations in which it's suspected that there was government misconduct.

In an email Monday, the White House dismissed Hill's attorney's arguments, with deputy counsel Michael Purpura writing: "As the White House Counsel has explained, there is no valid impeachment inquiry underway."

Hill arrived on Capitol Hill on Monday and was set to testify before three House committees that U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani went around the National Security Council and official White House protocol to speak directly with Trump about Ukraine.

Hill was also reportedly set to testify that she strenuously objected to the removal of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, but that her input was disregarded.

Hill had received a subpoena to testify and was the first former White House official to agree to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry.

Yovanovitch told Congress on Friday that she was unjustly removed, and Sondland is set to testify Thursday.

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