Former White House communications director Hope Hicks has reportedly been refusing to answer many questions from lawmakers at a closed-door hearing, and top Democrats aren't happy.
"I'm watching obstruction of justice in action," Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said on Wednesday, USA Today reports. "...You have to ask the question, 'what are they trying to hide from the American people?'"
Lieu on his Twitter page said that a Department of Justice lawyer accompanying Hicks to the testimony has repeatedly objected to questions about her time in the White House, apparently including one about where her office was located. The White House had previously directed Hicks not to testify about her White House tenure. Lieu added that he did get Hicks to answer one question about whether it was sunny or cloudy on her first day working in the White House. "You'll need to wait for the transcript to see her answer," he wrote.
Similar to Lieu, when asked on Tuesday about news that the White House had directed Hicks not to answer questions about her time in Trump administration, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) simply told CNN, "obstruction of justice."
Hicks during the testimony also would not answer a question about whether she told the truth to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, with a White House lawyer instructing her to also dodge questions about her time after leaving the White House, Politico reports. "She is making a choice to follow along with all the claims of absolute immunity,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) told Politico. "Basically, she can say her name." Brendan Morrow
The remarkably lenient plea deal Jeffrey Epstein reached with federal prosecutors is the best-known case involving the millionaire financier's history of paying underage girls for sex, but one of Epstein's alleged victims also sued one of his alleged enablers, Ghislaine Maxwell. That case was settled before trial for an undisclosed sum in 2017, but U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet had "accepted almost all filings in the case under seal, without specific orders justifying the secrecy." Three parties sued to have the files unsealed, and on Tuesday night, "two mystery litigants" objected, Politico reports.
Since Sweet declined to unseal the files, the U.S. 2nd Court of Appeals is deciding the fate of the documents submitted to court and Sweet's sealed ruling. "Just prior to a court-imposed deadline Tuesday, two anonymous individuals surfaced to object to the unsealing," arguing "they could face unwarranted speculation and embarrassment if the court makes public records from the suit," Politico reports. In the lawsuit, Virginia Giuffre accused Maxwell of sex trafficking by allegedly facilitating Epstein's sexual interactions with teenage girls; Maxwell denied the charge.
One of the requests to quash the unsealing was filed on behalf of "John Doe" by Manhattan-based lawyer Nick Lewin and the other by Washington-based attorney Kerrie Campbell on behalf of "J. Doe." The three parties who had requested the files be unsealed were the Miami Herald, alt-right social media personality Mike Cernovich, and prominent lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who said several of the sealed records would disprove allegations from two women that they had sex with him at Epstein's direction. You can read more about the case at Politico. Peter Weber