Hope Hicks, once a close aide to U.S. President Donald Trump, arrived to face questions in Congress on Wednesday, about six instances in which Democrats believe Trump may have broken the law during the 2016 election campaign and while in the White House.
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ROUGH CUT (no reporter narration) STORY: Hope Hicks, once a close aide to U.S. President Donald Trump, arrived to face questions in Congress on Wednesday, about six instances in which Democrats believe Trump may have broken the law during the 2016 election campaign and while in the White House.
The White House has asserted immunity over any testimony by Hicks involving her 14 months at the White House, according to a knowledgeable source.
But the 30-year-old former fashion model was still expected to appear under subpoena before the House Judiciary Committee at 9 a.m.
Hicks was Trump's former campaign press secretary and his White House communications director until she left the administration in March 2018.
Democrats want to hear from her about alleged hush money payments made during the campaign to two women, including porn star Stormy Daniels, who say they had affairs with Trump.
He has denied the affairs.
They also want Hicks to talk about five examples of potential obstruction of justice by Trump that are laid out in U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election meddling in the 2016 presidential election, as well as the president's efforts to impede the Mueller investigation.
Assertions during questioning of executive privilege, a legal principle sometimes cited by presidents to keep White House information under wraps, would block a key line of inquiry by the committee and could lead to a subsequent legal challenge.
Despite the closed setting, Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, view Hicks' appearance as a breakthrough for their congressional investigation, which could trigger impeachment proceedings against the president if it unearths evidence of serious misconduct.
Democrats say her appearance could help undermine Trump's strategy of stonewalling congressional investigators by encouraging others to cooperate with them and by giving investigators the chance to challenge any executive privilege assertions, possibly in federal court.