Hope Hicks testifies before House Intelligence Committee in Russia probe

Hope Hicks, the White House communications director and longtime aide to President Donald Trump, appeared before the House Intelligence Committee in a closed-door interview Tuesday as part of the group’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

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The Associated Press reported that Hicks, who tends to shy away from the public eye, arrived at a rear entrance to the committee's offices just after 10 a.m. Tuesday. She declined to speak with reporters.

A few hours into the interview, committee member Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, told The Hill that Hicks was not answering questions about her time in the Trump administration. He said the committee had yet to touch on questions about the presidential transition.

Hicks, who served as Trump's spokeswoman during the 2016 presidential campaign, is considered a key eyewitness to the president's actions, according to the AP.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, said Tuesday's interview would focus on Hicks' roles in both Trump's presidential campaign and in his administration, Bloomberg News reported.

"We don't know at this point if she will testify completely or fully, as others who have served in the administration have, or whether she will do what Steve Bannon did, which was stonewall," Schiff told CNN on Monday. "We hope, obviously, she will be cooperative, but at this point, I don't know what we can expect."

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, one of President Trump's closest aides and advisers, arrives to meet behind closed doors with the House Intelligence Committee, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Credit: J. Scott Applewhite

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Credit: J. Scott Applewhite

Bannon, a former advisor to Trump, and other people who have worked at the White House have refused to answer questions, citing limits on what they can say. The House is considering whether to hold Bannon in contempt.

Lawmakers planned to ask what role Hicks played in a statement made to reporters last summer about a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower attended by a Russian lawyer and the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to Bloomberg News.

The president reportedly dictated a statement to Hicks after media reports surfaced about the meeting. The statement initially claimed that the younger Trump focused on a program to adopt Russian children during the meeting, but emails released last year showed he agreed to take the meeting after he was offered dirt on his father’s rival for the presidency, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

In the hours before Hicks’ arrival, Trump tweeted twice, quoting cable news commentators who said they hadn’t seen evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia.

Another tweet encouraged investigations of Clinton. A last tweet simply said “WITCH HUNT!”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.