White House communications director Hope Hicks does not plan to answer some questions about her time in the Trump administration while she appears Tuesday behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee, according to a Republican on the panel.
“There are some questions that she’s not going to answer. I think anything dealing with the administration, from the time of the inauguration,” GOP Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah told reporters.
Members of the panel are asking Hicks to answer their questions as part of their investigation into Russian meddling into the US election. Lawmakers are watching to see how forthcoming Hicks is after former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon declined to answer questions when he was interviewed by the committee earlier this month. Bannon said he had been instructed by the White House to invoke executive privilege on behalf of President Donald Trump, and he would not answer questions beyond the timeframe of the 2016 campaign.
Asked if Hicks was also invoking privilege for the transition, Stewart said those questions have not been asked. “We haven’t gotten there yet,” he said.
“We’ve still got a ways to go,” he added.
Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, who is among the GOP members leading the investigation, told CNN ahead of the meeting that he expects Hicks to answer all questions, including during the transition and her time in the White House. He said he is not aware of any agreement to limit the scope of her testimony.
“We’ll find out this morning,” he said.
Hicks did not answer reporter questions on her way into the interview Tuesday morning. She was initially scheduled to appear before the committee last month, but her testimony was delayed over questions about whether she could discuss the presidential transition and her time at the White House.
The House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, said Monday that he did not know whether Hicks will answer all of the committee’s questions.
“We don’t know at this point if she will testify completely or fully as others who have served in the administration have, or whether she will do what Steve Bannon did, which was stonewall,” Schiff said. “We hope obviously she will be cooperative, but at this point I don’t know what we can expect.”
Schiff has called on the House panel to issue contempt citations to Bannon and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who also limited the scope of questions he would answer, although the Republican leading the committee’s Russia investigation, Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, has not said yet if that step would be pursued.
Hicks has already been interviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, a source familiar with the matter told CNN. Hicks also met last year with special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation.
Hicks, a trusted Trump aide for years, was one of then-candidate Trump’s first hires as he put together an improbable run for the White House. During the campaign, she was often by Trump’s side and attended nearly every rally, while she was in frequent communication with other senior officials as they coordinated their tactics to win the White House.
The House panel plans to interview her about any knowledge she has of contacts that occurred between other Trump associates and Russians. And she is bound to be questioned about other controversies as well, namely the White House’s involvement in crafting a misleading response last summer once a June 2016 meeting between Russians and Donald Trump Jr. was revealed in the press.
Hicks appears to have firsthand knowledge of a number of key events that have shaped the first year of the Trump White House, including being on Air Force One when the initial misleading statement about Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russians was crafted.