Democrats exited the hearing room frustrated on Wednesday after a Department of Justice lawyer shut down every question for former communications director Hope Hicks pertaining to her tenure at the White House.
The White House lawyer allegedly said multiple times throughout the meeting that Hicks had blanket immunity and did not have to talk about her time in the White House. Several Republican committee members confirmed that Hicks, a key Mueller report figure who was referenced 184 times, was answering questions but would not elaborate as to what type.
The early returns were not promising for Democrats, based on a tweet from committee member Ted Lieu of California.
Nadler said a transcript of Hicks' interview will be made public.
Democrats have also asked her about Trump's role in a hush money payment to a porn actress during the campaign.
It was so far unclear whether Democrats would take Hicks or the administration to court to challenge the claim of immunity.
Trump again criticized Congress for failing to investigate Hillary Clinton for deleting her emails after getting a subpoena from Congress to preserve them.
President Donald J. Trump waves to the press beside White House Communications Director Hope Hicks as he walks from the Oval Office of the White House to board Marine One, March 29, 2018.
"The longstanding principle of immunity for senior advisers to the President is firmly rooted in the Constitution's separation of powers and protects the core function of the presidency, and we are adhering to this well established precedent in order to ensure that future Presidents can effectively execute the responsibilities of the Office of the President", White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in a letter to Nadler. He said that Hicks would not answer a question "as simple as, 'where was your office located?' 'Objection.' It's ridiculous", Lieu said.
"Basically, she can say her name", Jayapal said. This is extreme Presidential Harassment.
"The Dems are very unhappy with the Mueller Report, so after nearly 3 years, they want a Redo, or Do Over". Her interviews led her to be mentioned in the Mueller report 184 times, Politico reported.
Documents related to Hicks' time in the White House and presidential transition were not turned over, Trout maintained, arguing the decision to release documents originating with the White House and transition "is not hers to make".
Testimony from witnesses such as Hicks is one step in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's methodical approach to investigating Trump.
More than 60 lawmakers in her caucus - including nearly a dozen on the committee - have called for opening an impeachment inquiry, but she has said she wants committees to investigate first and come to a decision on impeachment later. The committee and the Justice Department have since reached an agreement giving panel members access to more of the Mueller report and some underlying material from the investigation.
Yes. One wrinkle here is that Trump can not block his former aides, who are now private citizens, from speaking to Congress if they want to.
Obtaining the testimony Wednesday from Hicks was a victory for the committee, given that Trump has said he will fight "all of the subpoenas".
"The White House lawyers are exerting 'absolute immunity, ' which is not a thing, it doesn't exist.about anything pertaining to her time in the White House", Lieu complained.
Former White House Counsel Don McGahn, a star witness in the Mueller report, last month defied a subpoena for his testimony and documents after the White House directed him not to co-operate with the Judiciary panel. Democrats are particularly interested in asking her about several episodes detailed in Mueller's report related to obstruction of justice. Before the hearing, Democrats laid out topics they hoped to probe relating to possible obstruction, including: Trump's firing of FBI Director James B. Comey, his feelings toward former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to law enforcement about his contacts with a Russian diplomat, and Trump's attitude toward former attorney general Jeff Sessions. The aides spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss their plans for the closed-door meeting. Trump has denied the allegations.