Top Stories
Top Stories
Politics

House Democrats subpoena ex-White House staffers Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson in obstruction of justice probe

Key Points
  • House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler subpoenas former White House officials Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson to testify.
  • Donaldson was chief of staff to former White House counsel Don McGahn, who on Tuesday defied the Judiciary panel's subpoena to testify about special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. Hicks is a former White House communications director.
  • "As I said earlier today, the Judiciary Committee's investigation into obstruction of justice, public corruption and abuse of power by President Trump and his Administration will continue," Nadler says.
Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks.
Getty Images

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., on Tuesday subpoenaed former White House officials Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson to testify before his committee and provide documents related to a sweeping probe of figures in President Donald Trump's orbit.

Donaldson was chief of staff to former White House counsel Don McGahn, who on Tuesday defied the Judiciary panel's subpoena to testify about special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. Hicks is the former White House communications director.

Both Hicks and Donaldson were ordered to produce the requested documents to the committee by June 4. Hicks' subpoena sets a June 19 date for her to testify in a hearing before the Judiciary Committee, while Donaldson is asked to appear June 24 for a deposition.

The Judiciary Committee said in a statement that the subpoenas for Hicks and Donaldson were issued for "testimony and documents" related to its probe of "obstruction of justice, public corruption, and other abuses of power by President Trump, his associates, and members of his Administration."

VIDEO2:5902:59
Jerry Nadler at McGahn's empty-chair House hearing: 'Our subpoenas are not optional'

The panel noted that Mueller's report had "documented alarming misconduct and obstruction of justice by" Trump and that "Donaldson and Hicks were critical witnesses to this behavior."

"As I said earlier today, the Judiciary Committee's investigation into obstruction of justice, public corruption and abuse of power by President Trump and his Administration will continue," Nadler said in a statement.

"I have issued these subpoenas today to two critical witnesses who have worked closely with the President. We are seeking the information in order to conduct proper oversight, consider potential legislation and perform our constitutional duties."

Hicks referred CNBC's request for comment to her attorney, who did not immediately return calls. Donaldson did not immediately return emails requesting comment.

A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to CNBC's inquiries about whether the president planned to invoke executive privilege to prevent either woman from turning over documents or from testifying before Nadler's committee.

Hicks was at the center of the White House's response to reports that high-level Trump campaign officials, including Donald Trump Jr. and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had secretly met with Kremlin-connected Russians in Trump Tower in June 2016.

The White House said at the time that Trump himself was not involved with crafting the response, which said the meeting was primarily about adoption. It was later revealed that Trump Jr. had been told by Rob Goldstone, a British publicist who set up the meeting, that the Russians had incriminating information to offer about Trump's political opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"If it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer," Trump Jr. responded.

Donaldson, as McGahn's chief of staff, took notes chronicling Trump's decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. Those notes are referenced dozens of times in Mueller's 448-page report on Russian election interference, possible conspiracy between Trump's campaign and Russia, and possible obstruction of justice by Trump himself.

VIDEO15:1315:13
Trump's impeachment would start with this man: Rep. Jerry Nadler

Mueller did not uncover sufficient evidence to show Trump-Russia coordination, and Attorney General William Barr and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined there was insufficient evidence for an obstruction offense.

The subpoenas to Hicks and Donaldson are only the latest to come from House Democrats, who have sent requests for information or cooperation to dozens of current and former Trump associates. The Judiciary Committee alone had launched a wide-ranging corruption probe into Trump and the White House that served requests to 81 entities and individuals. The White House responded harshly to that investigation, accusing the committee of making "illegitimate oversight attempts" and trying to engineer a "do-over" of Mueller's probe.

Separately, Trump has vowed to fight "all the subpoenas" from House Democrats.

The Judiciary panel had subpoenaed Barr to hand over the unredacted Mueller report and its underlying evidence, which the attorney general had refused to do, citing federal rules about releasing confidential grand jury information. On Monday, Trump directed McGahn not to comply with the House panel's subpoena to testify about the Mueller report. At an empty-chair hearing Tuesday morning, Nadler vowed that his committee "will hear Mr. McGahn's testimony, even if we have to go to court to secure it."

Other Democrat-led committees have issued subpoenas, as well. The House Ways and Means Committee subpoenaed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig to hand over six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns — subpoenas that were defied on Friday.

The president's lawyers have also launched lawsuits to block subpoenas issued by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee requesting Trump's financial information. U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta ruled against Trump in one of those suits Monday, striking a blow to arguments made by Trump's legal team that the subpoenas did not serve a "legitimate legislative purpose."

— CNBC's Dan Mangan and Christina Wilkie contributed to this report.

WATCH: Hope Hicks lands at Fox

VIDEO0:5500:55
Former White House communications director Hope Hicks has landed at Fox