- White House communications director Hope Hicks took five to 10 minutes to answer a question posed by a member of the House Intelligence Committee while she consulted with her lawyer, CBS News reported.
- The representative had asked her if she had ever lied on President Donald Trump’s behalf.
- She responded that she had told “white lies” for him, but hadn’t lied with respect to the Russia investigation.
- Hicks has become a major witness in the investigation because of her closeness to Trump.
When asked whether she had ever lied for President Donald Trump, White House communications director Hope Hicks didn’t answer the question for “five to ten minutes.”
That’s according to Rep. Eric Swalwell’s account as reported by CBS News on Thursday. The Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee was talking about Hicks’ appearance at a closed-door meeting on Tuesday.
Hicks appeared before the committee this week as part of the Congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. She announced that she would be stepping down from her White House post on Wednesday.
After conferring with her attorney, Hicks finally responded to the question, but added an important caveat.
“I have never been asked to lie with respect to the Russia investigation,” Hicks finally said, according to CBS.
Hicks has become a key witness in the Russia probe due to her closeness to the president and because she was reportedly present at a number of key junctures during the campaign, the transition period, and the Trump administration that are of interest to investigators.
She sat down with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in December 2017 to answer questions related to Trump’s involvement and contact with Russians during the 2016 campaign.
Following Tuesday’s hearing, Swalwell said Hick’s reaction to his question was telling.
“If your response to the question, ‘Have you ever been asked by your boss to lie for him?’ is to take two time outs, we already know the answer to the question,” he told CBS.
But Rep. Tom Rooney, who is also a member of the committee, objected to Swalwell’s query, calling it a “setup,” and said he should have made it more relevant to the investigation the committee had been charged with investigating.
“So I asked her specifically with regard to the substance of our investigation,” whether she had been asked to lie, and she said ‘No,'” Rooney said.
Hicks had made headlines earlier this week for reportedly telling the panel that she had told “white lies” to the president, but according to CBS, Rooney said Hicks only used the phrase to respond to the committee after it had already been used by the representative on the panel.
She followed in the footsteps for former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon during Tuesday’s testimony, and refused to answer a number of questions about the presidential transition period and her time in the White House. Bannon, who testified earlier this month, also limited his answers, citing executive privilege.