Hope Hicks, the White House communications director and longtime aide to President Donald Trump, appeared before the House Intelligence Committee in a closed-door interview Tuesday as part of the group’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The Associated Press reported that Hicks, who tends to shy away from the public eye, arrived at a rear entrance to the committee’s offices just after 10 a.m. Tuesday. She declined to speak with reporters.
A few hours into the interview, committee member Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, told The Hill that Hicks was not answering questions about her time in the Trump administration. He said the committee had yet to touch on questions about the presidential transition.
Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) emerges from Hope Hicks interview saying they’re a long ways from being done. Makes a quip about popping some No Doze. He says she’s not answering questions related to her time in the administration. He says they have not gotten to transition Qs yet.— Katie Bo Williams (@KatieBoWill) February 27, 2018
Hicks, who served as Trump’s spokeswoman during the 2016 presidential campaign, is considered a key eyewitness to the president’s actions, according to the AP.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, said Tuesday’s interview would focus on Hicks’ roles in both Trump’s presidential campaign and in his administration, Bloomberg News reported.
"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 told CNN on Monday. "We hope, obviously, she will be cooperative, but at this point, I don't know what we can expect."
Bannon, a former advisor to Trump, and other people who have worked at the White House have refused to answer questions, citing limits on what they can say. The House is considering whether to hold Bannon in contempt.
Lawmakers planned to ask what role Hicks played in a statement made to reporters last summer about a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower attended by a Russian lawyer and the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to Bloomberg News.
The president reportedly dictated a statement to Hicks after media reports surfaced about the meeting. The statement initially claimed that the younger Trump focused on a program to adopt Russian children during the meeting, but emails released last year showed he agreed to take the meeting after he was offered dirt on his father’s rival for the presidency, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
In the hours before Hicks’ arrival, Trump tweeted twice, quoting cable news commentators who said they hadn’t seen evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia.
“I’ve been skeptical about the collusion and obstruction claims for the last year. I just don’t see the evidence....in terms of the collusion, it’s all a bit implausible based on the evidence we have.” Jonathan Turley on @FoxNews— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2018
“We’ve seen NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION....I have seen nothing, the firing of James Comey and all of the aftermath, that suggests that the President has obstructed justice because he’s exercising his power as the President of the U.S. I just don’t see it.” Judge Ken Starr— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2018
Another tweet encouraged investigations of Clinton. A last tweet simply said “WITCH HUNT!”
“He’s got a very good point. Somebody in the Justice Department has a treasure trove of evidence of Mrs. Clinton’s criminality at her own hands, or through others, that ought to be investigated. I fully agree with the President on that.” @judgenapolitano on @marthamaccallum Show— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2018
WITCH HUNT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2018
The Associated Press contributed to this report.