Frustrated Dems on Hope Hicks’ Testimony: Who Objects on Questions About Telling the Truth?

Frustrated Dems on Hope Hicks’ Testimony: Who Objects on Questions About Telling the Truth?


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Janet Ybarra
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director and close confidant to Donald Trump, left Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee frustrated over the lack of information and cooperation she offered Wednesday, even after meeting with committee members behind closed doors.

Accompanied by White House and other attorneys, Hicks refused to answer even the most basic of questions, according to Judiciary Democrats.

Specifically, the committee wanted to question Hicks–who left the White House last year–about her knowledge about the obstruction of justice on Trump’s behalf by special counsel Robert Mueller.

“I called the hearing or the interview a farce because she had White House counsel, her own personal counsel, about six different lawyers there telling her that she could not answer anything objecting to every single thing from, you know, answering a question where she sat relative to the Oval Office, later she was asked by the chairman, ‘Did you tell the truth to Robert Mueller?’ And they immediately said, ‘Objection.’ Who objects to whether or not somebody is telling the truth to the special counsel?” a clearly exasperated Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash) asked during a TV interview. “So this was clearly the White House trying to … stymie the American people from getting information they deserve to have. We did not get a lot from Hope Hicks because of the absolute immunity claim and one thing that was interesting, John, they did not claim executive privilege. They didn’t claim executive privilege because they can’t.

“They have already waived executive privilege so what they did is claimed this absolute immunity, which is absolutely it and they kept using that but what we were able to do importantly is show the American people which will be seen as the transcript is released that the White House is blocking even a witness that would like to come and comply and let’s give Hope Hicks the benefit of the doubt,” Jayapal added. “She was there. The reality is that we weren’t able to get a lot of information because the White House locked it. Ongoing obstruction of justice.”

Attorneys went so far as to block Hicks from even divulging whether she had told the truth in previous testimony, according to Judiciary Committee member, Rep Ted Deutsch (D-Fla).

“I can give you two examples. And it will help explain the range of issues. On the subject of the obstruction of justice, laid out by Mueller, that is the president asked his personal lawyer to fire the special counsel, then when that was reported, the president asked him to lie about it, then he asked him to create a false record. Well, Hope Hicks knows about all of that, given the role that she played in the White House,” Deutsch said. “And I asked her about each of those. And we have a right to hear from her to fill in what was missing from the Mueller Report, and in each instance the White House lawyer jumped in and said, ‘No, you can’t answer that.’ Those were really troubling. But to show you how absurd it is, she couldn’t even answer a question about whether she told the truth to the Mueller team, whether she might have perjured herself to the Mueller team.”

The committee is expected to release to the public its transcript of the Hicks encounter this week.

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  • comment-avatar
    Anthony Zarrella July 2, 2019

    This is an example where rhetoric (the Committee members’ rhetoric, not the author’s) is used to obscure the truth to the American people.

    Objecting to a question of “Did you tell the truth” is something ANY INTELLIGENT ATTORNEY would have done, because it is a paradigmatic example of the sort of question the Fifth Amendment’s right against self-incrimination was designed for.

    Lying to the Special Counsel would be (as we’ve seen in some of the indictments) a *felony offense* – so they were directly asking Ms. Hicks, “Did you commit a crime, yes or no?”

    And they were asking her *that* question under oath as well.

    So, if she said “No, I did not tell the truth,” she’s admitted to a crime.

    But if she says, “Yes, I told the truth,” and investigators later conclude (even *wrongly*) that she did not, then she’s teed-up a charge of lying to Congress.

    What Reps. Jayapal and Deutsch are implying was egregious obscurantism was nothing more than a refusal to waive a fundamental constitutional right.