Politics & Policy

Impeachment Hearing Devolves into Chaos as Democrats Grill Lewandowski on Trump Communications

Corey Lewandowski appears at the House Judiciary Committee’s first hearing of their impeachment investigation on Capitol Hill September 17, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski testified Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee in a public hearing on presidential obstruction that quickly devolved into chaos, as Democrats and Republicans sniped at both one another and the witness.

Lewandowski began his testimony on a combative note, slamming the Committee’s investigation into whether there are grounds to impeach President Trump as partisan.

“Sadly, the country spent over three years and 40 million taxpayer dollars on these investigations. It is now clear the investigation was populated by many Trump haters who had their own agenda — to try and take down a duly elected president of the United States,” Lewandowski said during his opening statement. “As for actual ‘collusion,’ or ‘conspiracy,’ there was none. What there has been, however, is harassment of the president from the day he won the election.”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report detailed a communication from Trump to Lewandowski, who was fired from the Trump campaign in 2016 but remained close to the president, requesting that Lewandowski ask then-attorney general Jeff Sessions to limit what later became the Mueller probe, a message the former campaign manager never delivered. But Mueller opted not to charge Trump with obstruction of justice over his intended message to Sessions as well as several other communications that caused alarm among critics.

Lewandowski exasperated Democratic Committee members by refusing to answer questions about his communications with the president or any matter not included in the Mueller report, per the White House’s request. Chairman Jerry Nadler at one point invoked Richard Nixon’s impeachment, reminding Lewandowski that the former president was impeached in part on charges of obstructing congressional oversight.

“Mr. Lewandowski, when you refuse to answer these questions, you are obstructing the work of our committee,” Nadler said. “You are also proving our point for the American people to see: The president is intent on obstructing our legitimate oversight. You are aiding him in that obstruction. And I will remind you that Article 3 of the impeachment against President Nixon was based on obstruction of Congress. You are instructed to answer the questions.”

Nadler also accused Lewandowski of “filibustering” when he asked for a copy of the Mueller report. Minutes later, Representative Doug Collins, the committee’s ranking Republican, called a point of order when Nadler spoke past his time limit, but Democrats voted him down.

Lewandowski has previously testified twice before the House Intelligence Committee regarding the Committee’s Russia investigation.

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