President Donald Trump's longtime aide Hope Hicks is declining to answer questions about her time in the White House in a closed-door interview Tuesday with the House intelligence committee, the AP reports. The panel is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and any contacts between Trump's campaign and Russia. As one of Trump's closest aides, Hicks is a key eyewitness to his actions over the past several years. She was his spokeswoman during the 2016 presidential campaign and is now White House communications director. As the interview went into the afternoon, several members of the committee said during breaks that Hicks was declining to answer any questions from her time in the White House. Others who have worked in the White House, including former strategist Steve Bannon, have also declined to talk about that time in interviews with the committee.
"There are some questions that she's not going to answer," said Republican Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah. Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois, another member of the panel, said Hicks and her lawyer were "following the orders of the White House not to answer certain questions." Another person familiar with Hicks' testimony said her lawyer is responding to questions about that time period by saying the White House has advised her not to answer and by saying she will take some questions "under advisement." The person declined to be identified because the committee meetings are behind closed doors. The Washington Post notes that lawmakers are interested in Hicks' role in drafting a misleading statement explaining the 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower. Politico notes that as the day wore on, Hicks did agree to answer some questions about the presidential transition, which she had also initially refused to do.