A Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee has called for an end to its year-long Russia investigation, following a leak about White House communications director’s Hope Hicks closed-door testimony on Wednesday.
The New York Times was the first to report that Hicks stated that she told “white lies” for President Donald Trump during the last three years she has worked for him during the presidential campaign and in the White House. She offered the example of saying Trump was in a meeting, when in fact he was not.
Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., blasted Democrats on the Intelligence Committee for leaking Hicks’ answer saying it was out of context and precipitated by a line of questioning intended to “trap” her.
Rooney told CNN‘s Erin Burnett that the question initially asked of Hicks by California Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell is whether she had ever lied on behalf of Trump.
Rooney then intervened saying the question was overly broad and called for it to be rephrased to whether she had lied regarding the Russia investigation or her testimony before the committee.
“To that she said she has not lied with regard to any of those things,” said Rooney, who added that Hicks was not the first person to testify to using the term “white lies.”
“We’ve interviewed scores of witnesses and now we’ve gotten to the point now where we’re literally bringing people in for nine hours just so the Democrats can leak to the press something as ridiculous as ‘white lies,’” said Rooney, who was in the room when Hicks was being interviewed.
In a separate phone interview with reporters, Rooney said the inquiry of Hicks began with a ‘bulls— question,” according to CBS News
“The whole line of questioning was a trap,” the representative stated. “They sent her down a rabbit hole that she could not get out of. And it was completely unfair.”
Rooney contended that the Democrats’ leaking of Hicks’ response was proof the investigation has turned into something it was never meant to be.
“That’s what our investigation has become. I have never gone on TV … to talk about the Russian investigation because I don’t think it’s appropriate. But I’m coming on today because it needs to end,” Rooney told CNN’s Burnett.
“If we have reduced ourselves so far to get to the point now we are leaking stuff like this, rinky-dink things like Hope Hicks tells white lies for her boss, then we have gone completely off the rails and this investigation needs to end,” he added.
CBS News reported that Swalwell defended his inquiry of Hicks saying, “it’s a question that is asked of witnesses every day across America – and most people don’t have a hard time answering it.”
“If your response to the question, ‘Have you ever been asked by your boss to lie for him?’ is to take two timeouts, we already know the answer to the question,” Swalwell said, referring to Hicks taking time to confer with her legal counsel during the questioning.
Trump has hit House Intelligence Committee ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., for his alleged penchant to leak information to the media regarding the panel’s Russia investigation.
The president described Schiff as “one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington.”
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