- Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks rejected President Donald Trump‘s openness to receiving political information from foreign actors during closed door testimony on Capitol Hill, according to a top Democrat in the room.
- Trump had previously suggested he would listen to information on opponents that could help his campaign if a foreign government offered it, frustrating Democrats and Republicans alike.
- Hicks’ full testimony will be made public later in the week.
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WASHINGTON – Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks rejected President Donald Trump‘s openness to receiving political information from foreign actors during closed door testimony on Capitol Hill, according to a top Democrat in the room.
During a private hearing with the House Judiciary Committee, Hicks reportedly broke with the president on controversial comments that confounded both Republicans and Democrats in Congress.
On Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman and New York Rep. Jerry Nadler revealed Hicks’ stance during a public hearing.
“His invitation to foreign actors is so alarming that even one of his most loyal former aides, Hope Hicks, knew that the President’s statement was troubling,” he said. “Yesterday, during her transcribed interview, Ms. Hicks made clear that she understood the president to be serious when he said that he would accept foreign interference in our elections. She also made clear that even she knew that such foreign assistance should be rejected and reported to the FBI.”
“The president’s willingness to again welcome prohibited foreign assistance, now with a full understanding that the law prohibits it, is indeed shocking,” Nadler added. “The president may be willing to discard the lessons of the Mueller report, but we are not.”
Nadler also said Trump’s comments “may well have encouraged more foreign influence operations against our democracy.”
A full transcript of Hicks’ testimony, including the exchange about foreign assistance in campaigns, is set to be released later in the week.
The questions about whether or not an individual should report if they are approached by a foreign actor with dirt on a political opponent stem from comments Trump made during an interview with ABC News last week.
“It’s not an interference, they have information – I think I’d take it,” Trump said during the interview. “If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI – if I thought there was something wrong.”
Trump later backtracked on the comments, writing on Twitter that he is in frequent communication with foreign leaders.
“I meet and talk to ‘foreign governments’ every day. I just met with the Queen of England (U.K.), the Prince of Whales, the P.M. of the United Kingdom, the P.M. of Ireland, the President of France and the President of Poland. We talked about ‘Everything!'” Trump wrote. “Should I immediately call the FBI about these calls and meetings? How ridiculous! I would never be trusted again.”
Still, Trump’s admission enraged Democrats and prompted many Republicans do distance themselves from the president’s comments.
“That’s not the right answer,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a staunch ally of the president’s, told reporters in the Capitol last week. “A foreign government comes to you as a public official and offers to help your campaign giving you anything of value, whether it be money or information on your opponent, the right answer is no.”