White House Communications Director Hope Hicks has acknowledged to a House intelligence panel that she has occasionally told “white lies” for President Donald Trump, according to those present for Hicks’ closed-door testimony.
Hicks was interviewed for nine hours on Tuesday by the panel investigating Russia interference in the 2016 election and contact between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
In response to a question on whether she had ever lied for her boss, Hicks acknowledged to have told “white lies” for Trump on occasion, according to a person familiar with the testimony.
The person, who declined to be named because the committee’s interviews are not public, said Hicks told the panel she had not lied about anything substantive.
Republican Rep. Tom Rooney of Florida, a member of the intelligence panel who was in the interview, said Hicks’ answer was completely unrelated to the Russia investigation.
“When specifically asked whether or not she was instructed to lie by the president, or the candidate, with regard to Russia, the investigation or our investigation, the answer to that question was no,” Rooney said.
“And that’s our jurisdiction. Not whether or not he asked her to cancel a meeting for him, or something like that,” he added.
The top Democrat on the intelligence panel, California Rep. Adam Schiff, said that Hicks answered questions about her role in Trump’s campaign and answered some questions about the transition period between the election and the inauguration.
But she would not answer any questions about events since Trump took the oath of office.
White House statement
While the investigation is focused on Russian interference during the campaign, House investigators also had questions about her time in the White House, including her role in drafting a statement responding to news reports about a 2016 meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russians.
“All of our questions about what went into that statement went unanswered,” Schiff said.
That statement has been of particular interest to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating matters related to the Russian meddling and potential obstruction of an ongoing federal inquiry.
The White House has said the president was involved in drafting the statement after news of the meeting broke last summer.
The statement said the meeting primarily concerned a Russian adoption programme, though emails released later showed that Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, agreed to the sit-down with a Russian lawyer.