Ex-Clinton strategist met with Trump to talk impeachment

Mark PennMark PennThe Supreme Court vacancy — yet another congressional food fight Trump, Biden battle over rush for COVID-19 vaccine The 7 keys to victory in the presidential race MORE, a strategist for former President Clinton, met with President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE last week to discuss impeachment.

Penn met with Trump and other advisers in the Oval Office last Monday and reassured Trump that he wouldn’t be removed from office while recommending he travel across the country like Clinton did when he  faced an impeachment inquiry, The Washington Post reported Tuesday


Penn told The Hill in an email that he was not working for Trump and “would never do so.”

“As I’ve said in the past, I’ve had hundreds of meetings with presidents and I don’t relay their conversations,” Penn said.

“I am not working for Donald Trump in any way and I would never do so — either paid or unpaid. I’ve been dozens of times on TV about events of the day and that was the extent of my comments,” Penn continued. “I think the country needs all our leaders to focus on governing.”

Penn reportedly encouraged Trump to focus on the substance of the allegations against him related to his interactions with Ukraine, which are the focus of the House impeachment inquiry.

Penn is an opinion contributor to The Hill. The Hill has also partnered with Penn on political polling.

Vice President Pence and White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwaySpecial counsel investigating DeVos for potential Hatch Act violation: report George and Kellyanne Conway honor Ginsburg Trump carries on with rally, unaware of Ginsburg's death MORE also reportedly attended the meeting and Penn was accompanied by Andrew Stein, a Democratic New York politician and friend of Trump. Stein is the brother of James Finkelstein, who is the chairman of The Hill.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment. The meeting is the second between Trump and Penn, who journeyed to the White House for a brief Oval Office visit in February, The New York Times reported at the time.

The news of Trump’s meeting with Penn comes as the president faces a fast-moving impeachment inquiry from the Democratic-controlled House focused on allegations he sought to use a White House meeting and security assistance to Ukraine to pressure for investigations that could benefit the president politically.

Trump has lashed out at Democrats, accusing them of a politically motivated “witch hunt” and defending his interactions with Ukraine’s president as “perfect.” Trump has denied any quid pro quo in his dealings with Ukraine.

Penn served as a top strategist to Bill and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBloomberg rolls out M ad buy to boost Biden in Florida Hillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close Trump pledges to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, designate KKK a terrorist group in pitch to Black voters MORE, including working on the former’s successful 1996 reelection bid and the latter’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign. Penn was also credited with helping construct the former president's strategy to counter impeachment.

Penn has found himself increasingly adrift from the Democratic Party’s progressive wing in the years since he worked for the Clintons. He has become a frequent presence on Fox News and a notable critic of former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s Russia investigation. Penn now runs the Stagwell Group, a Washington, D.C., private equity firm.

SKDKnickerbocker, a progressive public relations firm owned by Penn’s investment group, issued a statement later Tuesday saying it operates “independently” and that Penn’s “politics and actions” do not reflect its own views.

“SKDK works for a wide range of clients in the non-profit and political community who will continue to receive our passionate support in mounting vigorous campaigns to highlight the abuses, including impeachable offenses, committed by this President,” SKDKnickerbocker said.

“As a company that operates fully independently in the service of its clients, we will continue to represent them, with pride, in these and other matters to which we are fully committed. #MarkPenn’s politics and actions do not reflect the views of SKDKnickerbocker,” the statement continued. 

Updated at 4:32 p.m.

Harper Neidig contributed