As expected, today's closed-door testimony before the House Judiciary Committee by former Trump regime adviser Hope Hicks was a bust as she refused to answer questions about her time at the White House, claiming immunity via executive privilege.
House Democrats erupted Wednesday at what they said was the White House’s repeated interference in their interview with Hope Hicks, a longtime confidante of President Donald Trump who was a central witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation.
Several House Judiciary Committee members exiting the closed-door interview said a White House lawyer repeatedly claimed Hicks had blanket immunity from discussing her time in the White House. They said she wouldn’t answer questions as basic as where she sat in the West Wing or whether she told the truth to Mueller.
“We’re watching obstruction of justice in action,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.).
“It’s a farce,” added Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who said Hicks at one point tried to answer a question about an episode involving former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski only to be cut off by the White House counsel.
“She made clear she wouldn’t answer a single question about her time unless the White House counsel told her it was okay,” an exasperated Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) said in an interview. “She couldn’t even characterize her testimony to the special counsel.”
Deutch added that the White House was not formally asserting executive privilege to block Hicks from answering certain questions; rather, the lawyer was referring to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone’s Tuesday letter claiming that Hicks was “absolutely immune” from discussing her tenure in the Trump administration.
Lieu said the White House lawyers were “making crap up” to block Hicks from testifying. He said she answered some questions about her time on the Trump campaign that provided new information, but he declined to characterize her comments.
Jayapal said lawyers even objected to Hicks discussing episodes that occurred after she left the White House — and that Hicks went along with it.
“She is making a choice to follow along with all the claims of absolute immunity,” Jayapal said, adding, “Basically, she can say her name.”
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) took a more forgiving tone, saying Hicks did answer some questions and said a transcript of her testimony released in the next few days would reveal what she said.
My guess will be it's not much, but what did Jerry Nadler and the Democrats on the committee expect? Remember that "absolute immunity" means whatever at least five Supreme Court justices decide it means.
On the other side, Nancy Pelosi outright said today that censure of Trump is not going to happen.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi officially shut the door on censuring President Donald Trump Wednesday but plans to view a minimally redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report this week, her latest attempt to juggle the competing impeachment factions within her caucus.
Pelosi initially rejected an offer from Attorney General William Barr in April to view the less-redacted report, rebuffing Barr’s demands that only top congressional leaders have that access. The speaker’s course reversal on the report comes days after key House panels secured agreements to give more lawmakers access to the evidence underpinning the special counsel’s conclusions.
“We will be having access to a less redacted version of the Mueller report,” Pelosi said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast Wednesday morning. “I accepted that because I’m afraid — I really don’t trust the attorney general of the United States.”
Pelosi told reporters she has made the request with the Department of Justice to view the report. A Democratic aide later confirmed that is expected to happen this week.
The California Democrat remained firm in her opposition to opening an impeachment inquiry into Trump right now but quashed the notion of censure — a less severe reprimand for public officials. Pelosi’s censure comments are significant because she is leaving the House with one option if they want to punish Trump — impeachment.
“I think censure is just a way out. If you want to go, you gotta go,” she said. “If the goods are there, you must impeach. Censure is nice, but it is not commensurate with the violations of the Constitution should we decide that’s the way to go.”
So, impeachment or nothing.
Your guess as to which one happens.