Hope Hicks, a former longtime confidant of President Donald Trump, will testify behind closed doors before the House Judiciary Committee next week, Chairman Jerrold Nadler announced Wednesday.
Hicks, who served as a top aide to Trump’s presidential campaign and in the White House as communications director, will answer lawmakers’ questions next Wednesday as part of the committee’s investigation into whether Trump obstructed special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. A transcript of her testimony will be made public.
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Her appearance before the panel will mark the first time that a current or former Trump aide will answer questions as part of the Democrat-led obstruction probe.
Trump has asserted executive privilege to block Hicks and other former aides from providing documents to the committee, which has issued subpoenas seeking documents and testimony. Hicks turned over documents related to her work on Trump’s presidential campaign, but it’s unclear whether those materials will help advance the committee’s investigation of whether Trump sought to obstruct the Russia probe as president.
Nadler said Hicks will face questions about her service in the White House, too, despite Trump’s assertions of executive privilege.
“Ms. Hicks understands that the committee will be free to pose questions as it sees fit, including about her time on the Trump campaign and her time in the White House,” Nadler said. “Should there be a privilege or other objection regarding any question, we will attempt to resolve any disagreement while reserving our right to take any and all measures in response to unfounded privilege assertions.”
Robert Trout, Hicks’ attorney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The president has blocked former White House Counsel Don McGahn and former Deputy Counsel Annie Donaldson from testifying publicly, and he is expected to formally direct both Hicks and Donaldson not to answer questions in public later this month.
Hicks was a key witness in Mueller’s investigation. She was present for many of the incidents of potential obstruction of justice that Mueller detailed in his 448-page report. Mueller did not charge Trump with obstruction of justice, but stated: “If we had confidence that the president did not commit a crime, we would have said so.” He also cited longstanding Justice Department guidelines that prohibit the indictment of a sitting president.
Mueller said those guidelines state that “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing” — a statement many Democrats interpreted as a referral to Congress for impeachment proceedings. Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposes launching a formal inquiry, but Nadler has made the case to Pelosi behind closed doors that an impeachment proceeding would boost House Democrats’ prospects in federal court.
Next week’s testimony won’t be Hicks’ first appearance on Capitol Hill. She testified before the House Intelligence Committee while she served as White House communications director. During that appearance, Hicks admitted that she often told “white lies” on Trump’s behalf.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), now the chairman of the committee, had urged the panel to subpoena Hicks at the time over her refusal to discuss her work in the White House, and he accused Republicans of a double standard because they had issued a subpoena to former Trump aide Stephen Bannon under similar circumstances.
Schiff also suggested potentially initiating contempt proceedings against Hicks at the time.
Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.