U.S. President Donald Trump’s first campaign manager and Democrats went head-to-head Tuesday during a tumultuous and oftentimes chaotic committee hearing as the witness repeatedly cited White House instructions to not discuss his discussions with the president.
Corey Lewandowski asked lawmakers, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, on numerous instances, to cite page number and paragraph excerpts from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s two-volume report summarizing his findings into Russian election meddling and possible instances of the president’s obstruction of justice.
His demand came after he requested a copy of the report from the chairman as Democrats insisted the former campaign chief was merely stonewalling. He later read aloud, in response to multiple questions, instructions from the White House that his testimony was privileged and could not touch on matters discussed with the president.
Lewandowski was appearing before the committee to testify in what Democrats are calling an impeachment hearing regarding one of 10 possible instances of obstruction noted by Mueller’s report.
Mueller’s report noted that Trump instructed Lewandowski during a one-on-one Oval Office meeting to tell ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions to announce publicly that the investigation was “very unfair” to the president, and curb the probe to solely address future election meddling.
But Lewandowski repeatedly read a relatively lengthy prepared statement detailing the White House’s statement aloud when asked about what transpired, prompting Nadler to say the White House’s order “is based on a bogus claim of executive privilege.”
“You are here under subpoena. That means you are required to answer our questions, all of our questions,” he said.
“He’s filibustering,” a visibly exasperated Nadler said when seeking to reclaim his time for questioning.
Lewandowski is one of three former Trump aides, including Rick Dearborn and Rob Porter, who have been subpoenaed. Dearborn and Porter, who both served officially in the White House unlike Lewandowski, will not heed the committee’s subpoenas.
The White House’s orders are part of Trump’s wider direction to stymy congressional investigations.
Lewandowski did not ultimately deliver the message to Sessions, but Mueller’s report says he instructed Dearborn to do it. Dearborn also did not convey the message, Mueller wrote.
Trump thanked Lewandowski for his testimony, writing on Twitter, “Such a beautiful Opening Statement by Corey Lewandowski!”
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