On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee released an initial transcript of its interview with former White House communications director Hope Hicks — including the 155 times that the administration’s lawyers blocked her from answering questions. Democrats were livid about the near-constant objections — enough that Representative Pramila Jayapal called the hearing “a farce” — and ultimately lawmakers left with little new information that was not made public in the Mueller report.
Hicks Refused to Say Where She Sat in the West Wing
Clearly, many details remained unearthed, including the location of Hicks’s desk at the White House. Elsewhere, she refused to answer questions about the president’s actions, their conversations, and her talks with other officials outside the White House. When the committee addressed almost anything from Hicks’s time in the administration, two White House lawyers were quick to object.
One of the attorneys, Michael Purpura, told chairman Jerry Nadler that Trump was not officially using executive privilege to block Hicks from testifying. But they determined she was limited by something very close to that power: Hicks “may not be compelled to speak about events that occurred during her service as a senior adviser to the president,” said Purpura. The former communications director stayed close to that guideline, saying: “As a former senior adviser to the president, I’m following the instructions from the White House.”
Hicks Disagreed With Trump’s Inclination to Accept Dirt on Rivals
Hicks broke from Trump’s recent statement that he would accept opposition research on his political rivals from foreign powers. When asked if she would call the FBI in such a scenario, she replied: “If I felt it was legitimate enough to have our law enforcement dedicate their time to it, sure.”
Hicks Said Trump’s ‘Russia, If You’re Listening’ Line Was a Joke
Speaking of attempting to obtain dirt on political rivals from foreign agents, Hicks claimed that the president’s famous July 2016 appeal to the Kremlin was made in jest. “You know, it was my understanding from both the way he made the remark, and the discussions afterwards, that this was a little bit tongue-in-cheek,” Hicks explained. “This was not a comment that was intended as an instructive or a directive to a foreign government. It was a joke. And that was the intent, based on my conversation with him, and that was it.”
Hicks Admitted to ‘White Lies,’ But Nothing More
The former adviser told lawmakers that she was never “asked to lie about matters of substance or consequence,” but that she told “white lies” on behalf of the president, which she defined as statements like “No, the President is not available right now.”
“No, Sir. I Lived the Mueller Report.”
When Representative David Cicilline asked Hicks if she had read the report, she responded with this overcooked gem that will be featured prominently in the inevitable bad dramatization of the special counsel’s investigation produced by Steve Bannon or David Bossie or whoever.
“The Dark Arts of the Internet”
When Representative Ted Lieu asked Hicks if she knew of the hacker Guccifer 2.0 — the operative responsible for breaking into the DNC computer network — she said that she “had heard things in the media about him being sort of somebody who practiced the dark arts of the internet,” a moment that would launch a 1,000 Twitter bios.