The Russia scandal is continuing to unfold this January, and the Trump administration is, at the same time, continuing to take apparent steps to try and put a stop to the concurrent investigations into the matter.
Over this past week, the House Intelligence Committee found its Russia investigation paralyzed after longtime Trump confidante Steve Bannon appeared before their body and refused to answer a whole host of questions, indicating that he had been directed to not answer questions by the White House itself.
Now, California Democratic U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, who serves as ranking member of the committee, is saying that not only did the White House thwart Bannon’s testimony but they’ve also cancelled the appearance of White House communications director Hope Hicks before their committee that had been set for Friday — at least, he believes that they did.
He issued a statement reading:
‘Following Mr. Lewandowski’s testimony and refusal to answer questions, the administration canceled entirely an interview scheduled for Friday with another key witness in our investigation. If that interview has been rescheduled, the date has not yet been shared with the minority.’
As he notes in his statement, not only did Steve Bannon’s appearance before the House Intelligence Committee this week go poorly, but so did the appearance of Trump’s first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who has stayed in the president’s orbit since losing his official position, popping up at an occasional meeting and party — and getting exposed for sexual misconduct in the process, having slapped Trump supporting singer Joy Villa repeatedly on the backside.
CNN described Lewandowski as having been “unprepared to answer many questions about matters that occurred after he left the campaign in 2016,” with him having insisted in an appearance on Fox this past week that he hadn’t been directed by the president in similar fashion to how he has been reported to have directed Bannon to behave while in front of the committee.
Bannon, for what it’s worth, will face scrutiny, even though he avoided answering many questions posed to him by the House Intelligence Committee, having been reported to have faced a subpoena from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office before agreeing to be interviewed privately instead of testifying before a grand jury.
As for the White House’s response to Rep. Schiff throwing blame on them for Hicks’ cancelled appearance before their committee, an administration official speaking privately to POLITICO claimed, quite simply, that he is not telling the truth.
On Wednesday, in the middle of the debacles over Bannon’s and Lewandowski’s respective appearances before the committee, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders commented publicly, saying that her team has been “fully cooperative with the ongoing investigations, and we’re going to continue to do so.”
An email reported upon by POLITICO, sent from the House Intelligence Committee’s top clerk to its members, indicated that it was the decision of Republican leadership to cancel Hicks’ appearance.
That email read, in part:
‘In light of the issues concerning executive privilege that emerged during Mr. Bannon’s interview, tomorrow’s interview with Hope Hicks has been POSTPONED.’
Rep. Schiff has sparred with the White House in the past, earning one of the president’s many Twitter jabs back in July.
Rep. Schiff, for his part, has maintained his doubts of the committee’s independence in cancelling Hicks’ testimony, saying:
‘I find it very hard to believe that it’s driven by the committee. Certainly in the minority we were ready, willing and able to hear her testimony. The majority never expressed any reservation about the timing of the witness coming before our committee. If the White House asked the majority to reschedule — and that’s the way they wished to frame it — that’s up to them.’
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