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Despite efforts to play it cool and safe, we're finally ready to call this thing what it is. This is an impeachment hearing, and it seems all the House hearings leading up to this were just the precursor.
However, it will be a hearing without many witnesses, as the White House is not allowing them to appear. Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski will appear, but it doesn't seem likely that he'll reveal much information.
A lobbyist, Lewandowski has worked on several campaigns and even ran for office himself yet never won. He met Trump in 2014, and in January 2015 he was asked to run the campaign, five months before Trump became president.
After two allegations that he was getting rough with others, Lewandowski was fired, which led to Paul Manafort becoming campaign manager. He was hired on as a commentator and then co-founded a lobbying firm. He's currently considering a run for the New Hampshire Senate.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler wrote in a statement after subpoenaing Lewandowski and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Dearborn that the two "were prominently featured in the special counsel's description of President Trump's efforts to obstruct justice by directing then-White House counsel Donald McGahn to fire the special counsel and then by ordering him to lie about it."
He added that the testimony of the two "will help the committee determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment against the president or other Article 1 remedies. No one is above the law."
Lewandowski was instructed late Monday by the White House to not discuss conversations he had with Trump when he was president, including the conversations that the special counsel and the House believe could be proof of obstruction of justice.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone told the House panel in a letter on Monday that Lewandowski could not testify about conversations with the president or his senior advisers.
Additionally, the White House ordered Dearborn and former White House staff secretary Rob Porter not to testify. The counsel's letter explained they were "absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony with respect to matters related to their service as senior advisers to the president."
Nadler referred to this move as a "shocking and dangerous assertion of executive privilege and absolute immunity."
"If [Trump] were to prevail in this coverup while the Judiciary Committee is considering whether to recommend articles of impeachment, he would upend the separation of powers as envisioned by our founders," the chairman said in a statement.
Earlier, a Lewandowski spokeswoman had said he would be cooperating fully. It's not known how this changes things for him. An attorney for Dearborn indicated he advised him to comply with the White House's order. It's unknown where Porter stands with his testimony.
Last month Lewandowski wanted to testify so that he could defend the president whom he has a "close" relationship with. "I want to go and remind the American people that these guys are on a witch hunt," he said on August 16.
Despite Lewandowski being a private citizen at the time, in June 2017, Trump met him at the White House and directed him to deliver a message to then-attorney general Jeff Sessions. The message was for Sessions to change the focus of the Russia investigation to future elections. Sessions had already recused himself from the investigation.
A month later, according to former special counsel Robert Mueller's report, Trump asked Lewandowski about the status of the Sessions message and said Lewandowski should "tell Sessions he was fired" if he would not meet with him.
31 May, 2020
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