WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Hope Hicks, once close advisor and communications director to President Donald Trump, will be the first member of his inner circle on Wednesday to testify before the Congressional Committee to investigate Trump's possible judicial disabilities.
FILE PHOTO: US President Donald Trump reacts by sitting in front of the White House communications director, Hope Hicks, in front of the Oval Office and leaving the White House to Cleveland, Ohio, in Washington, DC on March 29 REUTERS / Carlos Barria / File Photo
Democrats who control the House Justice Committee consider that Hicks's important insights into the problematic chapters of the report of former Special Envoy Robert Mueller on Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election and Trump's efforts may disturb the investigation.
"She's our first witness," said Jamie Raskin, a Democratic legislator on the committee. "Having someone to talk about what happened from a personal point of view is a dramatic debut for the committee."
Hicks, one of Trump's closest supporters in the 2016 election campaign and in the first 14 months of his presidency, was summoned to testify and appear on Wednesday at 9am (1300 GMT), the committee said.
There will be an interview with the legislator in camera and the committee will then publish a transcript.
The White House seeks to prevent former Trump consultants from collaborating with Trump on a series of congressional investigations. It is therefore unclear how helpful the 30-year-old PR consultant will be.
Hicks' lawyer did not respond to a Reuters request for a comment.
Mueller's 448-page report refers to Hicks more than 180 times, putting her in the midst of some of the most stressful episodes with Trump, who was unwilling to answer Müller's disability questions.
Democrats want Hicks throwing light at a meeting on June 9, 2016 at Trump Tower in New York. According to Mueller's report, representatives of the campaign, including the son of President Donald Trump Jr., met with Russians who offered "dirt." on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
One question is whether Trump himself knew about the meeting at the time.
The Mueller report quotes former vice campaign chair Rick Gates as saying Trump Jr. has told Hicks, other campaigners, and members of the Trump family of his plans for the meeting, but Hicks has denied until months later, of which Meeting to know.
The report also tells how Trump Hicks instructed in July 2017 to send a misleading statement to the press, pointing out that the Trump Tower meeting was about Russian adoption.
"I would like to know how she was involved in this process and what she personally knew," said Ted Lieu, another Democrat in the Judiciary Committee. "She was involved in this whole chain of events in which the President lied about what actually happened." It also described attempts by Trump to obstruct Müller's investigation, but did not announce that he had committed a crime.
PROOF OF DISABILITY?
Hicks was also present for two separate episodes that Mueller cited as relevant evidence of disability after Trump's inauguration: his efforts to persuade former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to divert the Russia probe from his 2016 campaign team, and his Attempts to convince the former White House lawyer, Don McGahn, that Trump had asked him to remove Mueller.
Legislators are not sure if Hicks will talk about their time in Trump's administration. The White House has already instructed them not to disclose the Committee documents during their term of office there, which ended in March 2018. Last month, the White House ordered McGahn to ignore a subpoena for documents and testimonies, causing him to skip a committee hearing.
The Republicans of the House of Representatives reject the committee's investigation as a political overreach that aims to appease democratic voters who want Trump to be charged.
"It only seems as if the Democrats are trying to influence the elections in 2020 and to use the committees," said Debbie Lesko, a Republican in the panel.
Legal experts believe that Hicks might refuse to answer key questions, citing Trump's claim of executive privilege over the Müller report.
This could force the committee to seek an order from the federal court to convict them, a move that the entire House of Representatives approved last week in a referendum.
The committee also summoned Annie Donaldson, McGahn's former chief of staff, as a testimony on June 24. Donaldson did not respond to a Reuters request.
Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Peter Cooney