Hope Hicks says she spoke with Trump between five and 10 times since leaving White House

Hope Hicks says she spoke with Trump between five and 10 times since leaving White House

The House Judiciary Committee made public the 273-page transcript of Hicks’ closed door interview on Wednesday, a document that revealed behind the scenes details of Trump’s presidential campaign as well as her relationship to the now-commander-in-chief.

But lawyers for the White House repeatedly objected to questions throughout the interview. According to Democrats on the committee, lawyers from the Trump administration blocked Hicks from answering 155 questions.

The transcript shows how the Judiciary Committee is seeking — so far unsuccessfully — to put witnesses like Hicks on the record about the episodes that were detailed in the Mueller report. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has not publicly said that he will pursue an impeachment inquiry, but answers to the questions posed and objected to Wednesday would likely form a base of evidence if the committee did pursue an impeachment path.

At the same time, there was little new unearthed during Wednesday’s hearing, as Hicks and the other witnesses that Democrats are seeking to haul up to Capitol Hill have already testified before the special counsel, if not congressional committees, too.

The interview underscores the challenges Democrats face in swaying hardened public opinions about Russia, the president and obstruction and the findings of the report from special counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump tower 2016

One strain of questioning led to an inconsistency with testimony from Mueller’s report. Lawmakers asked Hicks about the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, where the campaign expected to receive dirt from Russian government that could help them defeat Hillary Clinton.

Trump and his team have repeatedly said that the only people who knew the details of the meeting as it happened were the people who were actually in the room: Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign chairman at the time.

Hicks told lawmakers she learned about the meeting “in June of 2017,” which is consistent with her testimony to the special counsel. But that denial doesn’t entirely line up with Mueller’s findings. That report cited testimony from Manafort’s deputy Rick Gates, who was described as a credible and reliable cooperating witness. He told investigators about a campaign strategy session, days before the meeting, where Trump Jr. announced that he had a lead on “negative information” about Clinton and that it was coming from a Kyrgyzstan. Gates recalled that Hicks was present for that session.

When asked by Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island whether she had read Mueller report, Hicks responded “No, sir. I lived the Mueller report.”

At times, Hicks said she had no recollection of key moments in the Mueller report.

Hicks describes Trump order as ‘odd’

Hicks told lawmakers she wasn’t aware of any discussions about WikiLeaks within the Trump campaign, except for conversations about things that were already in the public domain.

“Sometimes there would be speculation about if there would be more emails or information released, but that was prompted by things in the media so — and, obviously, it wasn’t, you know, certain certainty. It was with speculation and skepticism,” she said.

There were also small snapshots of the relationship between Trump and Hicks, one of the first members of the President’s inner circle to face a Democratic-led committee.

Hicks said she viewed Trump’s order to former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to urge Attorney General Jeff Sessions to unrecuse himself from the Russia investigation as “odd.”

Hicks said she would still have gone to work for the Trump team if she had known about “the hell that (she) would be put through.” Responding to a question from Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert, Hicks said “I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity I had to serve, and, yes, I would do it all over again.”

This story has been updated with additional developments Thursday.

CNN’s Erica Orden and Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.

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