WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Judiciary Committee has released a transcript of its interview with former top White House adviser Hope Hicks, who spoke with committee members and staff behind closed doors.
Hicks refused to answer any questions related to her time working for President Donald Trump after he was elected, following orders from White House lawyers. She was blocked from answering questions 155 times, the committee said in a statement accompanying the transcript’s release.
The interview frustrated Democrats who hoped to get more information about several episodes that special counsel Robert Mueller reviewed for obstruction of justice.
The White House declared that Hicks was “absolutely immune” from discussing her time working at the White House because of separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the principle is “ridiculous” and Democrats intend to “destroy” it in court.
Hicks did answer some questions about her time on Trump’s campaign, the lawmakers said, but they said they learned little that was new.
Republicans said Hicks was cooperative and the interview was a waste of time, especially in light of Mueller’s two-year investigation. The top Republican on the panel, Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, said the committee “took eight hours to find out what really most of us knew at the beginning.”
Hicks was a key witness for Mueller, delivering important information to the special counsel’s office about multiple episodes involving the president. Mueller wrote in his report released in April that there was not enough evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, but said he could not exonerate Trump on obstruction of justice. The report examined several situations in which Trump attempted to influence or curtail Mueller’s investigation.
Democrats asked ask Hicks about several of those episodes, including efforts to remove Mueller from the investigation, pressure on former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the firing of FBI Director James Comey. They also planned to ask about Hicks’ knowledge of hush-money payments orchestrated by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump — the porn actress Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal. Trump has denied the allegations. Cohen is now serving three years in prison partly for campaign violations related to the payments.
As Hicks spoke to the committee, Trump tweeted throughout the day. He said the interview was “extreme Presidential Harassment,” and wrote that Democrats “are very unhappy with the Mueller Report, so after almost 3 years, they want a Redo, or Do Over.”
He also tweeted that it was “so sad that the Democrats are putting wonderful Hope Hicks through hell.”
Trump has broadly stonewalled House Democrats’ investigations and said he will fight “all of the subpoenas.”