Former Trump aide Hope Hicks frustrates Democrats with limited testimony

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Former Trump aide Hope Hicks frustrates Democrats with limited testimony

"The White House counsel's directive not to answer any of these questions will ultimately be decided by a court, and today establishes a record for refusal or willingness to comply with the approval of the president and the White House", said Judiciary member David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat.

Earlier this month, Cipollone directed Hicks not to hand over documents to the committee related to her time in the White House in response to a subpoena from the Judiciary Committee.

Hicks was present on Air Force One when Donald Trump re-wrote his son's explanation for why he met with Russians in Trump Tower to get "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. (Her first job in 2011 was at Hiltzik Strategies, a communications consulting firm who represented the fashion line of Ivanka Trump, the president's eldest daughter, which sparked her relationship with the Trump family.) She often spent hours in the Oval Office and appeared to occupy a different place in Trump's orbit than other former staffers.

Former White House communications director Hope Hicks arrived on Capitol Hill Wednesday to testify before the House Judiciary Committee behind closed doors, marking the first time a former member of President Donald Trump's inner circle faced questions in Congress as part of a host of congressional investigations into the president and his administration.

She did not answer when asked how she would respond to committee questions.

Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks testifies with the House Judiciary Committee on the Russian Federation investigation; Catherine Herridge reports from Capitol Hill.

His claims of privilege are, experts say, "laughable". She was, however, allowed speak about her time on the Trump campaign.

Committee aides did not speculate if Hicks' assertions of privilege could produce yet another fight in court, explaining that they did not want to predict anything before her testimony. He said that Hicks would not answer a question "as simple as, 'where was your office located?' 'Objection.' It's ridiculous", Lieu said.

Republicans on the committee, however, see the interview in a different light - arguing that Hicks' testimony is consistent with what was already laid out in Mueller's report and calling the interview a waste of time.

A transcript of her testimony, which will be released after the interview, will be featured at a Thursday hearing where the committee will examine an ABC News interview, in which Trump said he saw nothing wrong with accepting damaging information about a US political opponent from a foreign government, aides said. Jayapal said she told lawmakers that she would tell the truth.

They also expect Hicks to shed light on alleged hush payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougall.

The move by the White House to prevent another former official from answering questions by claiming "absolute immunity" further infuriated Democratic members, who accused the White House of committing obstruction of justice and threatened to enforce the committee's subpoena for Hicks' testimony by taking the matter to court.

The Judiciary panel wanted a higher-profile interview with Hicks, subpoenaing her for public testimony. The report examined several situations in which Trump attempted to influence or curtail Mueller's investigation. It also described numerous attempts by Trump to impede Mueller's investigation but stopped short of declaring that he committed a crime.

Democratic aides said they plan on asking Hicks about several of those episodes, including efforts to remove Mueller from the investigation, pressure on former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Hicks' appearance is a breakthrough for the committee, who has been struggling to compel key figures to cooperate with their investigation into Trump and whether he obstructed justice or abused the powers of his office. Cohen - who pleaded guilty to a campaign finance violation in connection with the episode past year - said the deal was arranged at Trump's direction. McGahn's former chief of staff, Annie Donaldson, was also subpoenaed for documents and an interview and has declined to provide the documents, like Hicks and McGahn.

Democrats also wanted Hicks to testify about an effort by the president to mislead the public about a June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower in NY, where the Mueller report said campaign officials, including the president's son Donald Trump Jr., met with Russians offering "dirt" on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

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