Corey Lewandowski is supposed to be testifying before the House Judiciary Committee which is looking into the impeachment of Donald Trump, but it would be better described as stonewalling. Lewandowski was Trump’s campaign manager, but he never worked in the White House. That didn’t stop White House attorneys from trying to claim executive privilege. The Washington Post writes:
White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the committee’s chairman, saying that Lewandowski has been “directed … not to discuss the substance of any conversations he had with the President or senior Presidential advisers about official government matters, unless the information is expressly contained in the Report.”
Cipollone added the even more dubious claim that conversations Lewandowski had with Trump during the transition, before he even became president, might be protected by presidential privilege.
Based on that Lewandowski’s response, several times during the hearing, has been “I recognize it is not my privilege, but I am respecting the White House’s decision.” As Vox’s Aaron Rupar writes, “Corey Lewandowski is straight up trolling Rep. Jerry Nadler.”
Lewandowski refuses to answer ANY of @RepJerryNadler's questions directly, using the White House's directions as an excuse.
Make no mistake: This is Trump directly obstructing investigations into his crimes. pic.twitter.com/WRCLTWiDo6
— CAP Action (@CAPAction) September 17, 2019
And Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), is egging Lewandowski along, trying in any way he can to end this hearing.
Lewandowski is not the embarrassment here. His schtick is to be expected. It is Rep. Collins who seems perfectly fine letting him give the proverbial bird to the committee on which he’s the ranking member.
— Sam Stein (@samstein) September 17, 2019
And as you can imagine this is all playing well with Trump. The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman says, “Hearing from sources that the Lewandowski hearing is being played on TV at the front of AF1 as the president travels to California. Aides are said to be enjoying the first several minutes.”
Such a beautiful Opening Statement by Corey Lewandowski! Thank you Corey! @CLewandowski_
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 17, 2019
Trump is probably enjoying how the Democrats on the committee are dealing with this too. They have given the witness the upper hand by not taking any action to compel Lewandowski to cooperate in full.
3/ They're playing to Fox. You're playing to what, exactly?
This guy is in contempt. He has no privilege or immunity. He was always a private citizen.
It's not about Corey. It's about the total inability of the House majority to get down to nut-cutting.
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) September 17, 2019
While the Democrats on the committee are being heavily criticized for mismanaging the hearing, there is one person getting praise. Democratic committee attorney Barry Berke got 30 minutes to question Lewandowski at the end of the proceedings. The New York Times writes:
Barry H. Berke, a well-regarded white-collar defense attorney who has taken a leave from his New York law firm to consult for the committee, unleashed a rapid-fire cross-examination in which he quickly established that Mr. Lewandowski had lied in an interview earlier this year when he said he couldn’t recall any conversation he had with Mr. Trump about Mr. Sessions.
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 17, 2019
Stunner on the Hill-The admission that Lewandowsky lied all around. He was impudent, rude, childish and proven to be a liar. Please put the country first when you testify before Congress. What happened today should be warning for those who think they can play to an audience of 1.
— Mika Brzezinski (@morningmika) September 17, 2019