Watch live: Ex-Trump campaign chief Corey Lewandowski denies collusion at House hearing
Corey Lewandowski, former campaign manager for the Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign, arrives to testify during a House judiciary committee hearing on presidential obstruction of justice and abuse of power on Capitol Hill Tuesday. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI |
Corey Lewandowski is sworn in before his testimony. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI |
Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., arrives for a House judiciary committee hearing. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI |
Ranking member Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., speaks during a House judiciary committee. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI |
Corey Lewandowski (L) talks to his lawyer as he testifies. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI |
Sept. 17 (UPI) — In opening remarks before the House judiciary committee Tuesday, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said he doesn’t recall having conversations with foreign entities nor did he collude with foreign attempts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.
He answered questions from the committee related to the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller weeks after receiving a subpoena from the panel.
“To the best of my recollection, I don’t recall ever having any conversations with foreign entities — let alone any who were offering help to manipulate the outcome of the election,” he said in his opening statement.
“As I have said publicly many times, anyone who attempted to illegally impact the outcome of an election should spend the rest of their life in jail.”
His opening statement didn’t mention allegations of obstruction of justice.
Early in his testimony, Lewandowski repeatedly refused to answer questions, citing instruction from the White House not to disclose White House discussions. He said it wasn’t his idea to invoke executive privilege during the hearing, citing a letter from White House counsel Pat Cipollone seeking to restrict Lewandowski’s testimony.
Because Lewandowski is a private citizen, he was accompanied Tuesday by a White House attorney.
Discussions Lewandowski had with Trump during the transition period might also be protected, since those answers could implicate “deliberative process privilege and other executive branch confidentiality interests.”
Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler called Cipollone’s claims about executive privilege “shocking and dangerous.”
“The president would have us believe that he can willfully engage in criminal activity and prevent witnesses from testifying before Congress — even if they did not actually work for him or his administration,” Nadler said in a statement. “If he were to prevail in this cover-up while the judiciary committee is considering whether to recommend articles of impeachment, he would upend the separation of powers as envisioned by our founders. No one is above the law.”
Lewandowski’s name appears about 100 times in the second volume of the Mueller report. Mueller said there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove Trump obstructed justice by interfering in the probe, but did not clear him, either. The report listed several “episodes” it said were potential obstructions.
Lewandowski appeared before the House intelligence committee last year, but refused to answer questions.
Other witnesses listed to testify Tuesday are former campaign adviser Rick Dearborn and former White House staff secretary Robert Porter.