Trump refused to let Hope Hicks tell Congress anything, including where her desk was


Former Trump aide Hope Hicks testified before the House Judiciary Committee, but she wouldn't answer even the most basic questions.

The House Judiciary Committee just released the transcript ofHope Hicks' interview from Wednesday. What it shows is that the White House continues to go to extraordinary lengths to stonewall the American people.

Hicks, Trump's former communications director, had agreed to a closed-door interview with the Judiciary Committee, which is looking into whether Trump obstructed justice. Though she sat down with the committee for nearly seven hours, she spent most of that time refusing to answer questions.

Hicks came to the hearing with five lawyers. She has two private attorneys representing her. She was also accompanied by two lawyers from the White House Counsel's Office and another from the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC).

That's an awful lot of administration muscle being deployed to prevent Hicks from telling the Judiciary Committee what Trump did.

In all, the lawyers for the Trump administration stopped Hicks from answering the committee's questions an appalling 155 times.

These were not necessarily tough or controversial questions where Hicks was ordered to keep her mouth shut. For example, on the advice of White House counsel, Hicks refused to say where she sat in relation to the Oval Office. She also wasn't allowed to answer whether she talked to Trump at lunchtime.

Think about how extraordinary that is. A sitting president is so concerned about hiding his efforts to obstruct justice that he is demanding a former employee literally not say where her desk was located or if she chatted with him during lunch.

Hicks' obstruction of the committee's work isn't based on any legal theory anyone recognizes. It's correct that the president — not his employees — may assert executive privilege, which protects some of Trump's private communications with his advisers.

But that isn't what the White House is asserting here. Instead, they're claiming what Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler correctly characterized as "absolute immunity."

Put another way, the White House told Hicks she couldn't answer anything of substance about her time in the White House, and she went along with it.

There's no dispute that Hicks has information about Trump's dealings with Russia, including the infamous June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting. She told special counsel Robert Mueller about it when she sat for interviews with him.

However, White House lawyers stopped her from agreeing that her own testimony to the special counsel was accurate. Their reason for doing so was convoluted. White House deputy counsel Michael Purpura blocked Hicks from answering because the question "asked her to characterize whether it was accurate, which would then cause her to talk about things she witnessed and observed during her time as a close adviser to the President."

The White House has also blocked Hicks from handing over any documents pursuant to the subpoena.

Trump has repeatedly claimed he is the "most transparent" president in history. But his fevered efforts to stop his aides from saying anything about their time working for him shows the exact opposite.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.