Congress

Hope Hicks, Ann Donaldson the latest ex-Trump officials to get subpoenas

Hope Hicks, former communications director for President Donald Trump, was subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee, along with Ann Donaldson, a former aide for Don McGahn. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and Ann Donaldson, the former chief of staff for ex-White House Counsel Don McGahn, were issued subpoenas Tuesday to provide documents and testimony to the House Judiciary Committee for its probe into corruption and obstruction by President Donald Trump and his associates.

Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., sent Hicks and Donaldson document requests on March 4, but the requested materials were never furnished.

It is unclear whether Hicks and Donaldson fall into the category of former Trump administration officials who have requested “friendly subpoenas” from Nadler in order to comply with the committee’s document demands.

“We’ve heard from a number of other people who’ve said they would comply if we give them a subpoena ... a friendly subpoena,” Nadler told reporters in March.

A spokesman for Judiciary Committee Democrats did not return a request for comment on the nature of the subpoenas for Hicks and Donaldson or whether they expect compliance.

Nadler has kept the subpoenas for Hicks and Donaldson in his quiver since early April, when the panel authorized subpoenas for McGahn, former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and former Trump chief political strategist Steve Bannon.

Nadler has not issued the subpoenas for Priebus or Bannon. Earlier Tuesday, McGahn declined to show up for his scheduled testimony before the Judiciary panel.

Nadler is planning a vote in June to hold McGahn in contempt of Congress for skipping the hearing.

“As I said earlier today, the Judiciary Committee’s investigation into obstruction of justice, public corruption and abuse of power by President Trump and his Administration will continue,” Nadler said in a statement Tuesday. “I have issued these subpoenas today to two critical witnesses who have worked closely with the President. We are seeking the information in order to conduct proper oversight, consider potential legislation and perform our constitutional duties.”

Trump has adopted a position of fiercely opposing congressional subpoenas since the conclusion last month of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian election interference in 2016.

The White House argued in a letter to Nadler Monday that McGahn has “absolute immunity” and is not legally required to comply with a congressional subpoena, citing an internal Justice Department opinion that determined Congress cannot compel the president’s senior advisers to testify about their official duties.

It stands to reason the White House would assert similar privileges over testimony and documents from Hicks and Donaldson, though a spokesperson for the Trump administration could not be reached for comment.

Nadler has dismissed such legal arguments.

“President Trump may think he can hide behind his lawyers as he launches a series of baseless legal arguments designed to obstruct our work,” Nadler said Tuesday at the abbreviated hearing for McGahn Tuesday.

“He cannot think these legal arguments will prevail in court. He thinks he can slow us down and run out the clock on the American people,” Nadler said.

Hicks and Donaldson have a June 4 deadline to produce the documents outlined in their subpoenas. The subpoena for Donaldson demands that Donaldson sit for a deposition on June 24.

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