According to multiple reports Tuesday, White House communications director and former Trump campaign aide Hope Hicks is on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s list to be deposed in relation to his ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The 29-year-old Hicks, youngest to ever hold her position, was involved in the Trump campaign from the earliest days – part of the initial team with the now-President from the moment of his descent of the escalators at Trump Tower in June 2015.
The exact nature of Mueller’s deposition requests, reported in Politico to include several other current White House officials in addition to Hicks, is unclear, but the questioning will take place over the course of a period expected to extend to the Thanksgiving holiday.
The depositions likely relate, at least in part, to the prosecution of one-time Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Mueller’s Special Counsel’s Office unveiled a twelve count indictment against Manafort and fellow Trump-associated lobbyist Richard Gates Monday. The charges are all unrelated to the purported scope of Mueller’s investigation – Russian election interference – and stem for the pair’s work with former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.
Manafort’s defense lawyer and the White House were united Monday in claiming that neither that indictment nor the seemingly unrelated guilty plea of a low-level Trump campaign foreign policy volunteer to a charge of making false statements to FBI investigators regarding his own entirely legal contacts with Russian nationals, carried any indication of “collusion.”
“[All] of the revelations that have taken place … have nothing to do with the president, have nothing to do with his campaign,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said, showing a continued adherence to that line in her Tuesday press conference.
The Hicks deposition news did nothing to change that. “Nothing about recent events alters the White House’s commitment to fully cooperate with the office of the special counsel,” White House lawyer Ty Cobb told Politico Tuesday. Some in the media downplayed the significance of the report. Axios’s Jonathan Swan, for example, tweeted his lack of surprise that Trump Organization prospect Hicks would be called in:
The method of interview Mueller is reportedly seeking to employ, a formal deposition, is important in its ability to “lock” the interviewee into their answers. The contents of the deposition can be used in a court of law to tear apart any contradictory responses given if the interviewees are called as witnesses in Manafort’s or any other trial.