Hope Hicks, a close aide to President Donald Trump, declined to answer questions about her time in the White House from members of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee as she testified on Tuesday in its investigation of Russia and the 2016 U.S. election, lawmakers said.
White House communications director Hicks was Trump’s spokeswoman during the 2016 election campaign. She answered questions about the campaign and some about the transition, the months between Trump’s victory in November 2016 and his January 2017 inauguration, Representative Thomas Rooney, a Republican who is one of the leaders of the committee’s Russia probe, told reporters.
Other Trump aides, such as former White House adviser Steve Bannon, also have declined to answer many of the committee’s questions, citing White House orders.
Hicks arrived at about 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT) for a closed door session with the panel, which is conducting one of three main congressional probes of allegations that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 election to boost Trump’s chances of victory, and whether his associates colluded with Russia.
Hicks did not speak to reporters as she came in.
Rooney said members were pressing Hicks to respond to the same questions in her House testimony as she had when she spoke to the Senate Intelligence Committee, one of the other congressional panels looking into the issue.
Shortly before Hicks’ testimony, Trump took to Twitter to comment on the investigation, tweeting “WITCH HUNT.”
Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia, and Moscow has denied attempting to meddle in the U.S. campaign.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders declined to comment on Hicks’ reported refusal to respond to some questions, telling reporters the White House would not comment on any individual’s interactions with the intelligence committee.