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Trump blasts Democrats for 'putting wonderful Hope Hicks through hell' after 'total exoneration' by Mueller

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump blasted House Democrats for subpoenaing his former aide Hope Hicks to testify behind closed doors.
  • Trump also falsely suggested that he had received a "total exoneration by Robert Mueller."
  • Trump asked why the House Judiciary Committee was not instead asking Hillary Clinton about the deletion of emails on a private server she had maintained while serving as secretary of State under President Barack Obama.
Former White House communications director Hope Hicks arrives at a closed-door interview with the House Judiciary Committee June 19, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson | Getty Images

President Donald Trump blasted House Democrats for subpoenaing his former aide Hope Hicks to testify behind closed doors Wednesday, accusing them of putting the "wonderful" Hicks through "hell."

Trump also falsely suggested that he had received a "total exoneration by Robert Mueller" and that special counsel's final report in condemning the Democrats' questioning of Hicks, the former White House communications director.

VIDEO1:3001:30
Hope Hicks has little to say after closed testimony to House Judiciary

And Trump asked in his latest scathing tweets Wednesday why the House Judiciary Committee — instead of asking Hicks questions for about seven hours during the day — instead was not asking his 2016 presidential election opponent Hillary Clinton about the deletion of emails on a private server she had maintained while serving as secretary of state under President Barack Obama.

At the same time, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., told reporters he planned to go to federal court to challenge the White House's claim that Hicks was immune from being asked about issues that occurred during his service in the Trump administration.

"Hope Hicks answered some questions," said Nadler, whose committee had planned to ask Hicks about possible obstruction of justice by Trump as detailed in incidents described in the recent report by Mueller.

"She gave us a lot of good information."

But Nadler added, "The White House asserted so-called absolute immunity, which is ridiculous and which we'll destroy in court."

"We're going to go to court on the doctrine of absolute immunity," Nadler said.

A transcript of Hicks's testimony, which ended just before 5 p.m. ET, is expected to be released to the public in the next several days.

On Tuesday night, White House counsel Pat Cipollone claimed that "Ms. Hicks is absolutely immune from being compelled to testify before Congress with respect to matters occurring during her service as a senior adviser to the President."

Earlier Wednesday, Trump had called the Judiciary Committee hearings and other panels' inquiries into his administration "rigged."

Trump had repeatedly accused House Democrats of ignoring the conclusions of the Mueller report and conducting investigations of him to damage his presidency politically.

While the special counsel Mueller did not say in his report that the president had obstructed justice in various ways while federal investigators probed Russian interference in the 2016 election, Mueller also pointedly did not exonerate the president of such conduct.

"If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so," Mueller said during his one and only public statement on his probe last month.

"We did not make a determination as to whether" Trump "did commit a crime," said Mueller at that time.

Judiciary Committee member Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., told reporters that while Hicks had answered "some" questions from the panel, "mostly she is hiding behind the facetious claim of complete immunity about anything to do with her service in the White House."

"The president's lawyers are directing her not to answer any questions even as we are recounting stuff she told to the special counsel," Cicilline said.

"This will be the beginning of what I presume will be litigation."

VIDEO0:3200:32
Hope Hicks arrives to testify before the House Judiciary Committee

Rep. Ted Lieu, a California Democrat who also is on the committee, said of Hicks, "I'm watching obstruction of justice in action."

"You have the White House asserting absolute immunity which is not a thing, it doesn't exist, and you have to ask the question, what are they trying to hide from the American people?" Lieu said.

"I think she is basically relying on the Department of Justice to assert objections every single time it's related to anything during her tenure in the White House, and again, there's no such thing as absolute immunity," Lieu said. "The White House is just making stuff up, and they're not asserting executive privilege, which actually is a thing. They're afraid to assert it. So we want to go to court, we're going to win, and then we're just going to make Hope Hicks come back again and actually answer the questions during her tenure in the White House."

But Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the ranking Republican on the committee, said he did not believe the White House was standing in the way of the committee's work.

"I think they're asserting the [White House Office of Legal Counsel] opinion which is immunity for senior White House officials," Collins said. "This has been evoked in all administrations, not just Republican, not just Democratic. I don't think they're standing in the way because she's actually here testifying and she is answering questions that don't fall under that opinion."

Hicks, who last year joined media company Fox as its top communications officer, earlier this month agreed to give House Democrats some documents after the White House told her not to comply with a subpoena.