House Democrats subpoena former White House communications director Hope Hicks

The Democrats also subpoenaed Annie Donaldson, the former chief of staff to then-White House counsel Don McGahn

Published May 22, 2019 10:48AM (EDT)

Hope Hicks (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
Hope Hicks (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., issued subpoenas Tuesday to Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director to President Donald Trump, and to Annie Donaldson, the former chief of staff to then-White House counsel Don McGahn.

The subpoenas were issued for testimony and documents related to the panel's ongoing investigation into allegations of obstruction of justice, public corruption and other potential abuses of power by Trump, his associates and other and members of his administration, the committee said.

"The redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report documented alarming misconduct and obstruction of justice by President Trump. Donaldson and Hicks were critical witnesses to this behavior," the committee said in a statement.

The subpoenas, which the committee authorized last month, call on Hicks and Donaldson to produce documents by June 4 and for Hicks to testify June 19 and Donaldson to appear for a deposition on June 24.

Nadler said last month, "We believe that these individuals may have received documents from the White House in preparation for their interviews with the special counsel. We also believe that these individuals may have turned this information over to their private attorneys."

The House Judiciary Committee previously requested a cache of documents from Hicks and Donaldson in March as part of its wide-ranging investigation. As of late March, Hicks had planned to cooperate with the panel's investigation into her former boss.

The subpoenas come after McGahn failed to show up at a Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday morning in which Nadler had subpoenaed him to testify. But McGahn, a key witness in Mueller's investigation into obstruction of justice by the president, defied the subpoena at the direction of the president.

The subpoenas represent yet another escalation of the tensions between House Democrats and the White House over investigations on issues including foreign election interference, alleged mismanagement in the White House security clearance proceduresthe president's finances and his immigration policies.

Since the Democrats seized control of the House of Representatives in January, current and former Trump administration officials have faced a barrage of subpoenas, demands to testify before a host of congressional panels and letters seeking a flurry of documents. But the White House has often ignored congressional requests for documents and witnesses, claiming the demands are an unconstitutional infringement on the president's powers. Democrats, meanwhile, have accused the Trump administration of stonewalling or flat-out ignoring their requests for documents and information.

The executive branch's attempts to push back against congressional inquiries targeting the White House have led a growing number of Democrats to contemplate new ways to compel current and former West Wing aides to acquiesce to their demands, including heightening calls to open impeachment proceedings against the president. Some Democrats have even proposed personally fining or jailing administration officials who do not comply with their requests.

But Hicks, who Trump calls "Hopey," enjoyed a close relationship with the president and appears to occupy a different place in Trump's orbit than other former staffers. The president has repeatedly lauded his former aide, who became a top press adviser for his 2016 campaign and during the first year-plus of his White House tenure before leaving to take a job at Fox, the media company which spun off from 21st Century Fox's merger with the Walt Disney Company.

By Shira Tarlo

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