Hope Hicks agrees to testify before House panel

President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE’s former aide Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksHope Hicks defends accuracy of her congressional testimony Nadler subpoenas Lewandowski, former White House official for testimony House panel to go to court to enforce McGahn subpoena, Nadler says MORE has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee behind closed doors, the panel announced Wednesday afternoon.

Hicks has agreed to submit to a transcribed interview before the committee next Wednesday. The committee had originally subpoenaed her for public testimony on June 19.

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“It is important to hear from Ms. Hicks, who was a key witness for the Special Counsel. Ms. Hicks understands that the Committee will be free to pose questions as it sees fit, including about her time on the Trump Campaign and her time in the White House,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerSecond Democrat representing Trump district backs impeachment GOP memo deflects some gun questions to 'violence from the left' House Democrats urge Trump to end deportations of Iraqis after diabetic man's death MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

Nadler said he planned to release the transcript publicly ”promptly" after her testimony. 

Hicks’s testimony will be significant, as she is the first former White House staffer to appear before the Democrat-led committee as part of its sprawling investigation into allegations of obstruction of justice and other abuses of power by Trump and his associates.

The White House has thus far blocked former officials such as ex-White House counsel Don McGahn from turning over documents and delivering testimony before the committee pursuant to subpoenas.

Earlier this month, the White House instructed Hicks and Annie Donaldson, McGahn’s former deputy, to decline to turn over documents related to their time in the administration. White House counsel Pat Cipollone argued that the documents remain under control of the White House and implicate executive branch confidentiality interests and executive privilege.

Hicks did provide the committee with some files related to her time on the Trump campaign, but she deferred to the White House order for documents related to her time in the administration.

The subpoenas to Hicks and Donaldson, issued together on May 22, also sought testimony from Hicks on June 19 and a closed-door interview from Donaldson on June 24.

Nadler, who has been battling with a White House that he says is stonewalling his committee’s legitimate oversight requests, also noted that he will work with Hicks to resolve any executive privilege issues that arise during the closed-door interview.

"Should there be a privilege or other objection regarding any question, we will attempt to resolve any disagreement while reserving our right to take any and all measures in response to unfounded privilege assertions," Nadler said. "We look forward to her testimony and plan to make the transcript promptly available to the public.”

Hicks served in prominent roles in the Trump campaign and later in the White House, resigning from her post as the president’s communications director in February 2018.

She provided testimony to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE, details of which are included in his exhaustive 448-page report laying out contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia and exploring potential obstruction of justice by Trump.

Mueller ultimately did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed the probe, saying the Justice Department policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted prevented him from doing so.

Still, the special counsel has made clear that his investigation did not exonerate Trump of allegations of obstruction, and Democrats have taken his report and recent public comments as a green light to drill forth on their own investigations into Trump’s conduct.

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrProsecutors are mainly to blame for the criminal justice crisis The Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes 10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall MORE has said the evidence laid out in Mueller’s report is insufficient to accuse Trump of a crime.

Hicks will be the first fact-based witness the panel will hear from as part of its investigation, with her appearance coming two months after the release of the special counsel’s report.

Earlier this week, the committee hosted a panel with former White House counsel John Dean, a known Trump critic and a pivotal figure in the Watergate scandal during the Nixon administration in the 1970s, to hear testimony on obstruction.

Meanwhile, a deal for Mueller’s own testimony continues to evade the committee; Mueller indicated in his public remarks on May 29 that he is unwilling to testify publicly before Congress about the investigation. Nadler says he will subpoena Mueller if necessary.

Nadler, however, teased Mueller’s possible testimony in an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday evening, saying he would testify “way before” the end of summer, without providing further detail.

The announcement of Hicks's scheduled testimony comes one day after the House Democrats voted to give committee chairmen more power to go to court to seek civil enforcement of their subpoenas for individuals who do not comply with them.  

Updated at 5:42 p.m.