Jun 18, 2019

White House launches last-ditch effort to block Hope Hicks testimony

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday arguing that former communications director Hope Hicks is "absolutely immune from being compelled to testify before Congress with respect to matters occurring during her service as a senior adviser to the President."

Why it matters: The White House has asserted executive privilege in an effort block Hicks and all other current and former Trump officials from complying with subpoenas from House Democrats. Hicks is the first official who will testify — albeit in a closed-door setting — in the committee's investigation into Trump's potential obstruction of justice.

  • Cipollone argues that Hicks' testimony "creates an inherent and substantial risk of inadvertent or coerced disclosure of confidential information." He also contends that questions about Hicks' work on the transition team are covered by executive privilege because they relate to decisions that Trump would later make as president.
  • It's unlikely that this last-ditch effort by the White House to block Hicks' testimony will have any impact on how House Democrats on the committee proceed. Per CNN, a White House official will be in the room during the testimony, and Democrats plan to engage in an "on-the-spot" negotiation if executive privilege is asserted for a particular question.

In a closed-door interview on Wednesday, the committee plan to question Hicks about five incidents of potential obstruction, Politico reports. Hicks, who has already turned over some documents to the committee, was a key witness to several of the most explosive episodes detailed in special counsel Robert Mueller's report, including the firing of FBI director James Comey and Trump's efforts to remove Mueller.

  • A transcript of the interview could be made public within 48 hours, aides told Politico.

Read the letter:

Go deeper

GM to exit Australia, New Zealand and Thailand

GM's Holden brand is popular among racing fans down under, and it's been a regular fixture at events like the Bathurst 1000 V8 Supercar Race in Australia. Photo: Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

General Motors is retiring its celebrated Holden brand from sales in Australia and New Zealand after 160 years and winding down operations by 2021, the company confirmed in a statement Monday.

The big picture: GM also intends to "sell its Rayong factory in Thailand to China's Great Wall Motors and withdraw the Chevrolet brand from Thailand by the end of this year," AP reports. "The downsizing is part of a long-running strategy at GM since the Detroit-based company emerged from bankruptcy in 2009," per Bloomberg.

In photos: Deadly Storm Dennis lashes U.K., Ireland and western France

A family is rescued from a property in Nantgarw, Wales, on Sunday. The storm comes a week after the U.K. was battered by storm Ciara, which killed two people, per the BBC. Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Storm Dennis continued to pummel parts of England, Wales and Ireland over Sunday night with heavy rain after battering Northern Ireland and Scotland, per the official British weather agency the Met Office.

Why it matters: It's the second-strongest nontropical storm ever recorded in the North Atlantic Ocean, with its hurricane-force winds and heavy rains that caused widespread flooding across the U.K., the Washington Post notes. Police in Wales confirmed Sunday they found the body of a man who fell into a river as the storm lashed Ystradgynlais.

Sanders accuses Bloomberg of trying to "buy" the 2020 election

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg. Photos: Drew Angerer; Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders tore into 2020 rival Michael Bloomberg at a Las Vegas campaign event Saturday, saying the billionaire and former New York mayor is trying to "buy the presidency" by paying millions of dollars in advertising.

Why it matters: Bloomberg has surged in national polling recently, having poured millions of dollars into campaign ads largely targeting Trump. His candidacy has become an obvious foil for Sanders, whose grassroots campaign railing against billionaires and the establishment has vaulted him to front-runner status.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy