Opinion: The Lewandowski hearing was a mess of lies and sycophantic games
Nworgu T A
Sept. 17, 2019
Today's House Judiciary hearing with Corey Lewandowski was a microcosm of the culture of corruption President Trump has cultivated. It also provided further proof that Trump's coverup didn't end with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
This was the first hearing in what House Judiciary Democrats are calling an impeachment investigation into President Trump, and Lewandowski was the first fact witness who has complied with one of their subpoenas. Most members of the Trump administration have ignored every subpoena that has been issued by House Judiciary, including former White House Officials Rick Dearborn and Rob Porter, who were compelled to appear with Lewandowski.
In every step of the process, during the Mueller investigation to the congressional investigations that followed, the Trump administration has behaved as if its members have something to hide. President Trump even tried to corruptly assert "absolute" executive privilege over Lewandowski's testimony in spite of the fact he's never worked in the White House. Why? Because Lewandowski is a key player in one of the five obstructive acts outlined in the Mueller report that meets all three elements for obstruction of justice.
Corey Lewandowski appears throughout the Mueller report . He communicated with former Campaign Adviser George Papadopoulos about a possible meeting in Moscow between Russian President Vladimir Putin and then-Candidate Trump and approved former Campaign Adviser Carter Page's Summer 2016 trip to Moscow. But it's not until page 90 of Volume II that Lewandowski takes center-stage.
In a nutshell, Lewandowski was ordered by President Trump in summer 2017 to tell then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to curtail Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign. This is where House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) focused the majority of his opening statement and his fellow Democrats focused their questioning. Republicans, on the other hand, focused their time attacking the Obama administration, making false claims of spying on the Trump Campaign , and attempting to undermine Mueller's investigation.
Corey Lewandowski used his written statement to praise Trump and talk about his time as Trump's campaign manager — and Trump sent out a tweet endorsing Lewandowski's opening statement. It sounded like a campaign stump speech for a reason. Then, during the first recess, Lewandowski sent out a tweet launching his bid for the New Hampshire Senate seat.
Throughout the hearing, we saw a combative, and at times disrespectful, Lewandowski alongside his peers. There were stonewalling tactics, Republicans pushing predictable conspiracy theories, and a blatant regurgitation of Trump's false narratives. During the first lines of questioning from House Democrats, Lewandowski refused to answer questions entirely and instead read from the White House's assertion of executive privilege.
Nadler pushed back against these stonewalling tactics, claiming that Lewandowski was "obstructing the work of our committee" and proving the point that "the president is intent on obstructing our legitimate oversight. You are aiding him." Nadler was asked by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) if he would hold Lewandowski in contempt of Congress, but Nadler did not immediately do so and instead said he would take it under consideration.
House Democrats were finally able to break through by shifting strategies. They began to read through Lewandowski's testimony to Mueller and asked Lewandowski to confirm whether he did indeed make those statements to the Special Counsel.
Lewandowski hesitantly confirmed every aspect of President Trump's obstructive requests: On June 19 2017, two days after President Trump asked then-White House Legal Counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller, Lewandowski met with Trump in the Oval Office. President Trump dictated a message that he wanted Lewandowski to deliver to Sessions which would've ordered Sessions to limit the scope of Mueller's investigation. Trump then followed up with Lewandowski on July 19 2017, and told Lewandowski to tell Sessions that if he refused to meet with him, he would be fired. Lewandowski never delivered either message.
Aside from the obstructive act at hand, there were also some moments where Lewandowski contradicted Mueller's report or outright lied.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and a number of other House Democrats, caught Lewandowski repeatedly claiming that he has taken dictations multiple times for President Trump. Mueller's report states that he has only done so once. Either the Mueller report is incorrect or Lewandowski is lying.
Lewandowski also claimed he knew nothing about the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia. That was a lie.
There was one moment that encapsulated today's disgraceful Republican performance. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) claimed that Democrats are "useful idiots" of Russia, that they are undermining Americans' trust in their institutions, and that they are dividing the people. The absurdity of this claim cannot be overstated. It's clear to any American who watched today's hearing or has been tuned in since Trump took office that there is no better descriptor of the modern Republican Party than what Buck accused Democrats of — and that is a sad thing to know.
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