The House Judiciary Committee is preparing to take initial steps to potentially hold former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in contempt over his refusal to answer questions at this week’s hearing before the panel, multiple sources tell CNN.
But it is a process that could take weeks: First, a letter is expected to be sent to Lewandowski asking him to answer questions and warning him he can be held in contempt if he doesn’t answer. Then, they may offer a contempt resolution, officially notice a committee vote and then hold a vote in committee before any floor action.
Some Democrats have been irked by the failure to hold Lewandowski in contempt immediately during the hearing, according to Democratic sources. That flies in the face of current House rules that would have made the process quite cumbersome to immediately hold him in contempt at the hearing.
At a private meeting Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the committee should have immediately held Lewandowski in contempt, but doing so would have been an arduous undertaking under House rules. Her office says that Pelosi was merely expressing frustration at Lewandowski – not the committee.
But the fight over what to do after Lewandowski’s testimony showcases the tensions that have been building within the Democratic caucus over the committee’s handling of impeachment, with members of the party again at odds over their messaging and strategy during a crucial time facing their majority. In the aftermath of the hearing, some Democrats are openly questioning the wisdom of bringing forward Lewandowski, whose heated exchanges with Democrats and stonewalling of their questions may have overshadowed key aspects of his testimony.
During Pelosi’s weekly news conference on Thursday, the California Democrat was asked whether Lewandowski’s testimony was a distraction from the Democratic agenda.
“We are legislating, investigating, and litigating. And I trust the work of the committee as they go forward to do that,” she responded. Pressed again on the issue, she said, “I trust the committee and the path that they are on.”
During Tuesday’s hearing, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler accused the White House of orchestrating “an absolute cover-up” by blocking some witnesses from appearing at the public session and trying to restrict Lewandowski’s testimony based on “crony privilege.”
“Mr. Lewandowski, your behavior in this hearing room has been completely unacceptable and it is part of a pattern by a White House desperate for the American people not to hear the truth,” Nadler said, adding that contempt proceedings against him were “certainly under consideration.”
At a private meeting about two weeks ago, Pelosi expressed annoyance at House Judiciary staff for pushing ahead on impeachment and going further than many members of her caucus, according to several sources. Some Judiciary aides, she said, just want to impeach.
At that same meeting, though, she also expressed support for Nadler’s handling of the investigation and said she backed the moves he was making in court, the sources said. She didn’t rule out impeachment in those remarks.
CNN’s Marshall Cohen, Haley Byrd, Lauren Fox and Dana Bash contributed to this report.