While federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have said that their investigation of the Trump campaign’s criminal hush money payments in 2016 has been closed, newly revealed documents indicated Thursday that Hope Hicks may have some remaining criminal exposure related to the case.
The former White House communications director and campaign spokesperson was involved in phone discussions with Donald Trump and his lawyer Michael Cohen as they were trying to deal with the new allegations, according to court filings released Thursday. In an affidavit to the court, and FBI agent wrote:
"… I have learned that in the days following the Access Hollywood video, Cohen exchanged a series of calls, text messages, and emails with Davidson, who was then Clifford’s attorney, David Pecker and Dylan Howard of American Media, Inc. ('AMI'), the publisher of the National Enquirer, Trump, and Hope Hicks, who was then press secretary for Trump’s presidential campaign. Based on the time of these calls, and the content of the text message and emails, I believe at least some of these communications concerned the need to prevent Clifford from going public, particularly in the wake of the Access Hollywood story."
“Clifford” refers to Stephanie Clifford, which is Stormy Daniels’ legal name. Daniels is one of the women who received hush money to conceal an affair she says she had with Trump.
The documents also indicate that Cohen, Trump and Hicks had a three-way call on Oct. 8 while they were trying to keep the Stormy Daniels story from coming out. Cohen has already pleaded guilty to coordinating the criminal hush money payments.
These new revelations suggest that Hicks may have been lying in her recent testimony to Congress, in which she denied being involved in any conversation with Trump and Cohen about the Stormy Daniels matter. In that hearing, Hicks was asked by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) whether she was “ever present when Trump and Cohen discussed Stormy Daniels.” The lawmaker repeatedly pressed Hicks, and Hicks repeatedly responded in the negative, saying that she was “never present for a conversation.”
The new court documents also noted that Hicks made related claims to the FBI:
In addition, based on my conversations with an FBI agent who has interviewed Hicks, I have learned that Hicks stated, in substance, that to the best of her recollection, she did not learn about the allegations made by Clifford until early November 2016. Hicks was not specifically asked about this three-way call.
After the release of the new documents, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler said Thursday that Hicks must come back to Congress and clarify her answers. He said the filings “revealed apparent inconsistencies with Hicks’ testimony.” Nadler listed multiple additional examples of Hicks’ statements potentially conflicting with the evidence.
Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer, argued after the court filings were released that lawmakers would like soon refer Hicks’ statements to the Justice Department as a potential instance of criminal lying to Congress. However, such charges can be difficult to prove, and it’s unclear whether investigators would be able to conclusively show both what Hicks knew back in 2016 and whether she was actively lying in 2019, rather than merely forgetting or misspeaking.
In comments to CNN on Thursday, Hicks said the new documents don’t contradict her statements and that she wasn’t involved in Cohen’s crimes.
“He was clearly motivated to do something that I wasn’t aware of,” Hicks said. “Nothing contradicts what I’ve said.”