Former White House aide Hicks agrees to testify to House panel investigating Trump
Hope Hicks, a top aide to President Trump during his 2016 campaign and his first year in the White House, has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next Wednesday, according to people familiar with the matter.
Hicks will be the first former Trump aide to go before the committee investigating whether Trump tried to obstruct a probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. But Hicks might not answer many of the panel’s questions, citing the president’s assertion of executive privilege on events that occurred inside the White House.
Earlier this month, the White House instructed Hicks not to cooperate with a congressional subpoena for documents related to her White House service.
Robert Trout, a lawyer for Hicks, declined to comment.
The testimony will occur behind closed doors, said the individuals, but a transcript will be released to the public. A member of the White House Counsel’s Office will be present for the testimony as part of the deal between Hicks and the committee, according to an individual familiar with the planning who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely describe the arrangements.
The testimony marks a significant breakthrough for the committee. It has struggled to secure witnesses and evidence amid a fight with the White House and took the unusual step earlier this week of bringing in John W. Dean III, a lawyer from Richard Nixon’s White House, to talk about obstruction. The committee also wants to hear from Donald McGahn, the former White House counsel at the center of the Mueller report on Russian interference, and Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel, among others. But Trump has said he does not want any of his advisers to cooperate, calling the probe a “do-over of Mueller’s probe.
Hicks was one of five aides formally subpoenaed by the committee — which is probing the obstruction question, among other issues. Mueller’s report said there was insufficient evidence to show a conspiracy between Russia and any Trump associates and decided not to reach a conclusion about whether the president committed obstruction, based on long-standing Department of Justice policy.
Hicks began working for Trump before he announced his candidacy and has been a trusted confidante for three years, shaping his image, managing his moods and counseling him on nearly all matters, from the substantive to the trivial. She was well-liked in Trump’s West Wing and held inordinate power due to her close relationships with the family, even as she acknowledged to colleagues that she was not a policy guru. She often spent hours in the Oval Office every day, and the president affectionately called her “Hopey.”
She was present for many of the most contentious episodes during both the campaign and in the White House before she left the West Wing in February 2018, and she has kept in occasional touch with the president and some of his closest advisers.
Hicks told others in the White House that she hated Washington and was looking forward to another chapter of her life. She now works at Fox Corporation in Los Angeles as a public relations executive.
Hicks was interviewed by Mueller and the House Intelligence Committee, and her departure from the White House came within 48 hours of her telling the committee that she had told “white lies” for Trump.
In a letter sent to the committee last week regarding documents, Trout drew a distinction between records the committee requested that pertained to the campaign, when Hicks served as a senior adviser, and documents related to her White House service. He agreed to turn over documents regarding her campaign activities. But he indicated that White House sign-off was needed for documents related to her time in the White House.