World / Politics

Democrats dissatisfied as ex-Trump aide Corey Lewandowski clams up and GOP cool to subpoena

Bloomberg

Democrats said they’ll seek a subpoena to force former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to answer all of their questions after he refused for the second time to respond to some inquiries about his communications with President Donald Trump.

“I answered every relevant question they had,” Lewandowski told reporters after three hours of questioning behind closed doors on Thursday. But Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee’s top Democrat, said it’s not up to a witness “to pick and choose” what he’s willing to discuss. He said Republicans are weighing the request to compel Lewandowski’s testimony.

Lewandowski had balked at providing some answers in his initial, nine-hour appearance Jan. 17 before the committee, which is looking into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and whether anyone close to Trump colluded in the meddling.

While Lewandowski did answer some questions Thursday, Schiff of California said that he refused to respond to inquiries about a Trump Tower meeting with Russians in June 2016 or the preparation of a false White House statement about what was discussed once that meeting became public.

Schiff said Lewandowski also balked at questions about Trump’s firing of FBI Director Jim Comey as well as any discussions he may have had with Trump about the possibility of firing Robert Mueller, the special counsel who’s leading the criminal investigation of Russian meddling.

Lewandowski told the panel in January that he wasn’t prepared to answer questions about his activities and communications after his departure from the Trump campaign in June 2016, including his interactions as a private citizen with Trump as president-elect and president. Lewandowski has said he still keeps in touch with the president.

It wasn’t clear whether Rep. Michael Conaway of Texas, the Republican leading the investigation, would go along with a demand for subpoenas. “I don’t talk about things like that,” Conaway had said on Wednesday.

Republicans are seeking to wrap up interviews after hearing from a few more witnesses, but there’s been no indication those interviewed will include major figures the Democrats want to call back for more questioning, including Donald Trump Jr. and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Panel members also remain unsatisfied with the testimony of two other high-profile witnesses close to Trump.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Hope Hicks, who has resigned as White House communications director, also refused to provide some answers to the committee, saying they were doing so under instructions from the White House.

By contrast, Lewandowski hasn’t asserted that the White House asked him not to address certain topics, saying during his initial interview simply that he was unprepared to answer such questions, Schiff said at the time.