Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who is scheduled to appear before the House Judiciary Committee as part of its impeachment inquiry, has been instructed by the White House not to testify on matters not directly related to the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Lewandowski was called to testify before the Committee as part of its investigation into President Trump’s alleged efforts to obstruct Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The White House announced its restriction on Lewandowski’s testimony in a letter to the Committee dated September 16.
“Mr. Lewandowski’s conversations with the President and with senior advisers to the President are protected from disclosure by long-settled principles protecting Executive Branch confidentiality interests,” the letter asserts. “It is a well-established legal principle . . . that the President’s communications seeking advice or information in connection with the discharge of his duties are highly confidential and not ordinarily subject to disclosure.”
Committee chairman Jerry Nadler strongly criticized the White House’s efforts to curtail Lewandowski’s testimony.
“This is a shocking and dangerous assertion of executive privilege and absolute immunity,” Nadler said. “The President would have us believe that he can willfully engage in criminal activity and prevent witnesses from testifying before Congress — even if they did not actually work for him or his administration.” (Lewandowski did not continue to work for Trump after the latter assumed office.)
While Mueller did not recommend an indictment, and prosecutors have concluded that there is no evidence the Trump campaign coordinated its efforts with Russia during the election, the report details a number of Trump’s attempts to curtail or otherwise affect the direction of the investigation. Specifically, it alleges that Trump asked Lewandowski to pressure then-attorney general Jeff Sessions to end the special counsel’s investigation, though Lewandowski refused to pass on the message.