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House Democrats release 270-page transcript of Hope Hicks' closed-door testimony

Key Points
  • Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said in a statement that lawyers for the Trump administration blocked Hicks from answering questions 155 times during the Wednesday hearing.
  • Hicks did answer questions about opposition research provided by foreign governments.
  • The committee summoned Hicks on Wednesday and pressed her to answer questions related to the panel's investigation into allegations that Trump obstructed special counsel Robert Mueller's two-year investigation.
Former White House communications director Hope Hicks leaves the hearing room during a break at a closed-door interview with the House Judiciary Committee June 19, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday released an initial transcript of its closed-door interview with Hope Hicks.

Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said in a statement that lawyers for the Trump administration blocked Hicks from answering questions 155 times during the Wednesday hearing.

Lawyers prevented Hicks, who previously served as White House communications director, from answering questions about the resignation of former national security advisor Michael Flynn and President Donald Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey. Nadler noted that the lawyers also intervened when Hicks was asked about the location of her desk within the West Wing.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on the transcript or testimony. 

Hicks did answer questions about opposition research provided by foreign governments. When asked whether she would accept such information, knowing what she knows now after her experience on the 2016 campaign, Hicks said she would not. She also said she would call the FBI if she was approached with information that she felt was "legitimate enough to have our law enforcement dedicate their time to it, sure."

Q: All right. In your experience now, knowing all that you do, you've reflected on it, would you take -- I'm asking you this based on your experience and the expertise you've developed, would you take foreign oppo information from a foreign government, if that were offered when working on a political campaign?

A: You know, knowing how much chaos has been sowed as a result of something like the Steele dossier, no, I would not.

Q: And, again, I'm asking you about your expert opinion. Would you advise another person to do that if they were in a position to do so?

A: No, I would not.

Q: Would you call the FBI if you were offered such information?

A: If I felt it was legitimate enough to have our law enforcement dedicate their time to it, sure.

Q: If you felt it was genuine or credible, you would call the FBI, right?

A: Yes.

Hicks' remarks are a diverge from those made by Trump in a recent interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos. The president said he would take damaging information offered by foreign operatives. He later defended his remarks, saying he talks to foreign governments daily.

The committee summoned Hicks on Wednesday and pressed her to answer questions related to the panel's investigation into allegations that Trump obstructed special counsel Robert Mueller's two-year investigation.

The White House had previously directed Hicks to not turn over to Congress any documents related to her time in the administration.

On Wednesday, Nadler told reporters he planned to challenge the administration in court over the White House's claim Hicks was immune from being asked about issues that occurred during her tenure. While Hicks "gave us a lot of good information," Nadler objected to the administration's immunity claim.

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

Read the House Judiciary Committee's release below:

House Judiciary Committee Releases Transcript of Hope Hicks Interview

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) released an initial transcript of the Committee's June 19th interview with former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks.

The full transcript is available here. Key takeaways from the Hope Hicks interview include the following:

Lawyers for the Trump Administration blocked Ms. Hicks from answering questions 155 times.

The White House refused to allow Ms. Hicks to answer any questions related to her time working for President Trump. She was blocked from responding to questions about the presidential misconduct detailed in the Mueller Report, including:

  • President Trump's directive to Corey Lewandowski to deliver a message directing Attorney General Sessions to "unrecuse" from the Russia investigation and limit the Special Counsel investigation (p28-30), a request that Ms. Hicks admitted she found "odd" (p34). According to the Mueller Report, Ms. Hicks was directly involved in the incident when Mr. Lewandowski asked her to type up the President's obstructive words.
  • President Trump's effort to have White House Counsel Don McGahn remove the Special Counsel (p116).
  • The resignation of former National Security Advisory Michael Flynn (p201).
  • The recusal of Attorney General Sessions from the Russia investigation (p203).
  • The President's firing of FBI Director James Comey (p203).
  • The President's creation of a false statement in response to press coverage of the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting (p205-206).

On one occasion, the Administration did permit Ms. Hicks to answer a single question about the weather on her first day of work for President Trump (p85). But the President's lawyers refused to allow to answer basic questions, like where her desk was located in the White House (p15).

Ms. Hicks confirmed that the Trump Campaign welcomed the Russian attack on the 2016 presidential election. She would not, however, do it again—parting ways with President Trump.

  • Ms. Hicks was unapologetic about the Trump Campaign's use of hacked materials released by Wikileaks, defending the campaign as using "publicly available information" (p74).
  • Ms. Hicks acknowledged that the Trump Campaign felt "relief" at the release of hacked information damaging to the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. (p104).
  • Ms. Hicks confirmed that Jared Kushner forwarded to the Secret Service a blackmail threat against President Trump purportedly made by Guccifer 2.0 (p90), but that the campaign made no effort to contact the Secret Service about an email from Wikileaks to Don Trump Jr (p91-92).
  • Ms. Hicks said that she was "very surprised" to learn that there were over 100 contacts between the Trump Campaign and individuals associated with the Russian government (p216).
  • Ms. Hicks stated that she agreed with the assessment of the intelligence community that the Russians had attacked the 2016 election by aiding the candidacy of President Trump and hurting that of Hillary Clinton (p54-55).

Ms. Hicks stated that she had learned from the 2016 presidential election, and that she would not today accept "foreign oppo information from a foreign government" (p165). She stated that she would report such an offer to the FBI if she found it to be credible (p165).

The White House's legally dubious claims of "absolute immunity" are a sham.

President Trump's lawyers entered more than 150 objections on the basis of "absolute immunity" for senior White House officials. These interruptions are a gimmick designed to interfere with the Committee's investigation.

  • Ms. Hicks was accompanied by two private attorneys, three lawyers from the White House, and one lawyer from the Department of Justice. This traveling law firm could have easily resolved any real concerns about executive privilege on a question-by-question basis. Instead, they prevented Ms. Hicks from answering even routine questions about her time at the White House.
  • The White House knows that it cannot invoke executive privilege—or any privilege—as to the information that was publicly released in the Mueller Report, which is why they are making this absurd claim.
  • The President's lawyers made these bogus immunity claims in order to stall for their boss, to block witness testimony, and to avoid invoking executive privilege where the privilege clearly no longer exists, if it ever did.

A full copy of the Hope Hicks interview transcript can be found here.