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Hope Hicks leaving her interview. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday released a transcript of its closed-door interview with former White House communications director Hope Hicks.

Why it matters: Hicks was the first Trump official to testify in the committee's investigation into potential obstruction of justice by the president. She was blocked from answering any questions about her time in the Trump administration or transition team by the White House, which claimed "absolute immunity."

  • Worth noting: One of the lawyers present for the interview acknowledges on page 11 that the White House is not asserting executive privilege in blocking Hicks' answers, but rather the "longstanding executive branch precedent" of "absolute immunity" from discussing an adviser's work with the president. Chairman Nadler calls the lawyer's argument "absolute nonsense as a matter of law."

Highlights: The committee claims that White House lawyers blocked Hicks from answering questions 155 times during the interview. The lawyers allowed her to answer one question from her time at the White House: the weather on her first day of work.

  • Hicks confirmed that the Trump campaign welcomed Russian interference and defended the campaign's use of hacked WikiLeaks materials as "publicly available information." However, she added that she would not today accept "foreign oppo information from a foreign government" and that she would report such an offer to the FBI.
  • Hicks was blocked from answering questions about Trump's potential obstructive conducted outlined in the Mueller report, including the firing of FBI director James Comey, efforts to fire the special counsel, attempts to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions to "unrecuse" himself, the drafting of a misleading statement about the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, and more.
  • Hicks said that she has spoken to Trump five to ten times since leaving the White House, with the most recent occasion coming in April over dinner. Lawyers objected to Hicks answering a question about whether she discussed congressional investigations with the president.

What they're saying:

  • House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.): "These interruptions are a gimmick designed to interfere with the Committee’s investigation. ... The Trump Administration’s claim of 'absolute immunity' has no basis in law.  The courts have already decided that 'absolute immunity' is 'entirely unsupported by existing case law' and 'virtually foreclosed' by the Supreme Court."
  • Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-Ga.): "Eight hours and 273 pages later, we’ve learned nothing new from a witness who has been cooperating with this committee for months. ... If Chairman Nadler were truly interested in gathering new facts, he would issue a subpoena to Robert Mueller, since no privileges or immunities would apply to his appearance or testimony, and Congress has yet to hear from him."

Read the transcript:

Editor's note: This piece has been updated to reflect a corrected quote issued by House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler that absolute immunity is "entirely unsupported by existing case law" (not supported).

Go deeper

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COVID time warp

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The start of the COVID-19 pandemic seems like a lifetime ago to some, and just yesterday to others. Scientists are beginning to unpack the way people processed the passage of time amidst the stress, uncertainty and isolation of the 1 year, 8 months and 21 days since WHO declared a pandemic.

Why it matters: The pandemic's global effects on how people experience time could provide new insights into the brain's ability to perceive and predict time — a fundamental feature of life.

Mitt Romney calls Ray Dalio's China investments a "sad moral lapse"

Sen. Mitt Romney walks to a Senate Republican caucus meeting at the Capitol on Oct. 7. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Thursday criticized billionaire Ray Dalio's investments in China, writing in a tweet that "his feigned ignorance of China's horrific abuses and rationalization of complicit investments there is a sad moral lapse."

Driving the news: Romney's comments come after Dalio's firm, Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, raised $1.3 billion in November for a new private fund in China, Bloomberg reports.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: First known U.S. case of Omicron variant identified in California — America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron — CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers.
  2. Politics: Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come — Meta removes accounts linked to COVID disinformation effort by China.
  3. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine.
  4. World: Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people — Omicron variant detected in more countriesWHO advises people 60 or older to postpone travel due to Omicron
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.