Hope Hicks has occasionally told fibs on behalf of her boss, but they only amounted to white lies, according to what little we’ve heard spill out after her closed-door testimony Tuesday with congressional investigators.
She did not answer questions about her time at the White House, joining former President Donald Trump aide Steve Bannon in claiming those communications are privileged. And she was reticent at first to discuss the transition period. It’s not exactly clear when the white lies may have occurred.
Hicks argued she hasn’t had to lie about substantive issues for Trump, according to the source with knowledge of her Tuesday comments that spoke to CNN’s Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb.
That the White House communications director should have to lie on behalf of her boss, who is a serial boaster, stretcher of the truth and documented outright fibber, should not be surprising.
That she would admit to even the smallest fib in the context of testimony about Russian election meddling is something else entirely. Even a white lie implies intentional misleading.
While Hicks’ testimony was not before special counsel Robert Mueller, he is unlikely to take very kindly to lies, even those of the white variety. Lying to the FBI — if that’s what happened here — is no joke.
Witness: Three people tied to the Trump campaign (former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former campaign official Rick Gates and former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos) have pleaded guilty as part of Mueller’s probe. All of them admitted lying to the FBI. A Dutch lawyer, the son-in-law of a Russian billionaire, has also pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI as part of the special counsel inquiry. CNN’s Marshall Cohen, Tal Yellin and Liz Stark have tracked all of the developments.
It’s also against the law to lie to Congress. Even for a President or his staffers.
The impeachment charges pass in the House against Bill Clinton back in 1998? One was for lying under oath to a federal grand jury about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. The other was for obstruction — inducing others to lie on his behalf about the affair.
We should add here the normal caution that we’ve documented before: we’re still a long, long, long way from any possibility of the kind of serious impeachment effort against Trump.
But it’s because they worry he might lie to Mueller that Trump’s aides have tried to sway him against an interview with Mueller’s team, according The New York Times. His lawyers have argued to Mueller’s team they have not met the threshold to have such a meeting.
Lies are often the thing in Washington.
Former Gen. James Cartwright leaked information to journalists. But it was lying about the leaks that drew his guilty plea in 2016. It was lies that brought down Scooter Libby during the George W. Bush administration.
There are a lot of things we don’t know about the white lies Hicks described behind closed doors on Capitol Hill, including the context around which Hicks admitted them. That’s extremely important information that will hopefully come out very soon. Maybe there’s a reasonable explanation for all of this.
It’s also not clear what Hicks may have said to Mueller’s team. She was scheduled to be interviewed late in 2017, after charges had been brought against Gates and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the guilty plea of Papadopoulos. Gates changed to a guilty plea earlier this month.
The White House doesn’t want staffers to talk in case they one day want to exert executive privilege, which is sort of a backhand way of trying to exert executive privilege without actually doing it.