House Judiciary Committee Democrats are not happy with Hope Hicks.
President Donald Trump’s former adviser responded to questions from members of the committee behind closed doors on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, and—per numerous members—didn’t give them much to go on. As a result, members said they expect to take her to court.
“It’s not at all helpful,” said Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), who stepped out of the hearing about an hour after it started and said it’s time to start an impeachment inquiry.
“This is the beginning of what I presume will be litigation proceedings,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), who has already called for movement on impeachment.
Hicks was flanked by a bevy of lawyers at the hearing. Gloria Solomon and Bob Trout, who also represented her when she testified to the House Intelligence Committee last year, were on hand for the hearing. A source familiar with the interview told The Daily Beast that the White House Counsel’s Office sent two attorneys: Michael Purpura and Patrick Philbin. A lawyer from the Justice Department’s elite Office of Legal Counsel was also on hand for the testimony, per another source.
The lawyers weren’t shy about jumping in, according to members. Hicks was asked to read parts of the Mueller Report that involved her, which she did, according to multiple sources familiar with the testimony. Then, when she was asked about the accuracy of the report, counsel objected to her answering, per those sources.
Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA), said lawyers in the room objected “dozens and dozens of times,” claiming Hicks was immune from demands she testify about her work with the president. Cicilline called that claim “specious.”
“The president’s lawyers are directing her not to answer any questions, even as we’re recounting stuff she’s told to the Special Counsel,” he added.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) said there was “very little” that lawyers in the room would let her answer.
“Basically, she can say her name,” Jayapal said.
Democrats said they expect to take Hicks to court in an effort to get more answers.
“This is a pattern,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), who is also running for president. “The White House says to people, ‘You can’t answer questions.’ There’s no legal authority to do so. It sets us back, we have to go to the courts, and then they say, ‘Oh well you know, this is taking too long, this is dragging on.’ And the reason it’s dragging on is because they’re not doing what they should have done and what the courts will tell them they’re supposed to be doing.”