Ex-aide defends Trump
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager yesterday acknowledged that his former boss enlisted him to try to limit the Russia election interference inquiry but defended Trump and tangled with Democrats during pugnacious testimony to a US congressional panel mulling whether to impeach the president.
Corey Lewandowski, a Trump confidant eyeing a run as a Republican for the US Senate in New Hampshire, testified under subpoena to the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee at a contentious hearing that once again exposed America’s gaping partisan divisions ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
“The president didn’t ask me to do anything illegal and he never asked me to keep anything secret,” Lewandowski told the Democratic-led committee during a hearing spanning about 5-1/2 hours.
Lewandowski told frustrated Democrats that he would refuse to answer questions about his conversations with Trump that Democrats view as evidence of obstruction of justice – a potential impeachment charge – and often dodged their queries.
But Lewandowski confirmed that Trump had asked him in 2017, when he held no government post, to tell then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the top US law enforcement officer, to limit the scope of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia inquiry in a way that would have ended scrutiny of Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Lewandowski also told the committee that he regarded as “a joke” Trump’s remark to him that the president would fire Sessions if the attorney general did not meet with Lewandowski. Sessions, who eventually was fired by Trump in 2018, ultimately did not meet with Lewandowski.
The committee’s Democratic chairman, Jerrold Nadler, called Lewandowski’s conduct at the hearing “completely unacceptable” and was considering seeking to hold him in contempt of Congress. (Reuters)