Trump 'asserting immunity' to prevent ex-spokesperson Hope Hicks testifying about work in White House

Transcript of testimony to be released to public

Andrew Buncombe
Tuesday 18 June 2019 18:36
Who is Hope Hicks?

The Trump administration is said to be asserting immunity over Hope Hicks' congressional testimony, to prevent her discussing her work in the White House.

The 30-year-old, who served as the spokesman for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign before joining the White House, is due to give testimony on Capitol Hill investigating possible obstruction of justice.

But it remains unclear how useful Ms Hicks’ appearance before the House of Representative’s judiciary committee on Wednesday will be. The session will take place behind closed doors and Ms Hicks will be accompanied by a White House lawyer.

On Tuesday, on the eve of her appearance, CNN said the White House was seeking to assert “immunity” over her testimony to prevent her talking about her work in the White House.

The network said Democrats on the committee have said say that they will not accept assertions of executive privilege over her entire time while serving as the White House communications director. They claim this would not stand up to a a court challenge because Ms Hicks, who left the White House in the spring of 2018, has already discussed some of these issues with special counsel Robert Mueller.

It said if Ms Hicks and her legal advisor attempt to invoke executive privilege, the committee will engage in an “on-the-spot” negotiation over particular questions.

Ms Hicks, who was considered very close to the president, will be the committee’s “first fact witness”, said Democratic congressman Jamie Raskin.

“Having somebody talking about what happened from a personal perspective will be a dramatic debut for the committee,” said Mr Raskin.

Bill Maher: Hope Hicks has been voted off the island... she was Trump's work-wife, his emotional companion animal

Reports suggest the questioning, which is due to start at 9am local time, could go all day, and in to the evening.

The committee will afterward release a transcript of her testimony, that is expected to feature prominently in a House judiciary committee hearing on Thursday.

At that time, legislators plan to examine an ABC News interview in which Mr Trump said there would be nothing wrong with accepting damaging information on a political opponent from a foreign government.

Ahead of her testimony, the White House has already directed Ms Hicks not to provide any documents pertaining to her White House tenure. She has handed over documents related to the 2016 campaign, raising expectations she will testify on those topics.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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