National Security

Hope Hicks arrives for House Intel interview

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White House communications director Hope Hicks appeared before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday morning as part of the panel’s ongoing investigation into Russian election interference.

The longtime member of President Trump’s inner circle has largely shied away from the cameras and rarely gives interviews on the record, and one lawmaker told reporters she wasn’t immediately answering all of the panel’s questions on Tuesday.

Hicks’s initial House Intelligence interview in January was abruptly delayed amid uncertainty over whether she would cooperate with questioning after former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon stonewalled the committee.

It remained unclear to both Republican and Democratic lawmakers whether Hicks will seek to curtail her testimony as she arrived for the interview.


When asked whether the White House has tried to limit the scope of the interview, the top Democrat on the committee said he wasn’t sure.

“I don’t know if an agreement has been reached with the majority, so I don’t know what the status of that might be,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) on Tuesday.

“I guess we will find out when we get down there today,” Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) said.

Two hours in to the interview, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) told reporters that Hicks was leaving “some questions” unanswered, specifically those related to her time in the administration. 

Asked if she was also seeking not to answer questions related to the presidential transition, Stewart said that the committee had not reached that portion of questioning yet. 

“I’m going to go home and get some No Doze,” Stewart said, suggesting that the interview, which began at 10 a.m., would be lengthy. 

The day before, Schiff expressed optimism Hicks would “fully cooperate” but indicated concerns that she may try to circumvent questioning much as Bannon did.

The former Breitbart News chief initially refused to answer questions about Trump’s presidential transition period in January, claiming executive privilege on any questions extending beyond Election Day. The move immediately prompted the panel to issue a subpoena to compel him to return for another interview.

When Bannon again appeared before the committee earlier this month, however, he refused to answer questions beyond a set of 25 pre-approved by the White House. Lawmakers on the committee say he had no grounds to make such an assertion on a time period before Trump took office.

“In the case of Bannon, it was an insupportable and overbroad claim and he needs to be held in contempt and he is still pushing the majority to do what I think they are committed to doing,” Schiff said on Monday.

Bannon’s refusal ignited a wave of fury among both Republicans and Democrats on the committee. Rep. Mike Conaway (Texas), the top Republican leading the panel’s investigation into Russian election meddling, said at the time that they will look into next steps in order to compel him to comply, which could mean holding him in contempt of Congress.

But after a House recess, it remains to be seen whether the momentum of seeking further action against Bannon will continue. When asked whether they have begun to hold discuss such steps, Conaway on Monday said, “Not yet.” 

Hicks has acted like a shadow to Trump, following him from the campaign trail into the West Wing after previously working for his elder daughter, Ivanka Trump.

Hicks has emerged at the center of some highly scrutinized events during the campaign and transition periods, including the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting during which Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer with reported ties to the Kremlin.

Hicks reportedly helped draft Trump Jr.’s initial, misleading statement about the meeting, claiming he met with her to discuss Russian adoptions. News reports, however, later revealed Trump Jr. attended the meeting with the intention of obtaining dirt on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Hicks’s appearance comes three days after the release of a memo from House Intelligence Democrats defending the Justice Department and FBI against charges of surveillance abuse from panel Republicans.

The memo claims the FBI had been investigating Trump’s campaign for seven weeks before it acquired the controversial “Steele dossier” of unverified opposition research against Trump.

—Updated at 12:17 p.m. Katie Bo Williams contributed.

Tags Adam Schiff Chris Stewart Donald Trump Donald Trump Jr. Hillary Clinton Hope Hicks Ivanka Trump Mike Conaway Pete King
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