Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski testifies
Chairman Jerry Nadler rebuked Corey Lewandowski, calling his behavior in the hearing “completely unacceptable” and “part of a pattern by a White House desperate for the American people not to hear the truth.”
Nadler said holding Lewandowski in contempt was “certainly under consideration.”
He went on to say that a “far more troubling level of contempt” exhibited in today’s hearing is the President’s role in Lewandowski’s refusal to answer questions, saying it furthers the “pattern of obstruction” laid out in the Mueller report. Nadler said exposing misconduct by the President is the committee’s top priority.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, interrupted to ask Nadler if he had this speech to Lewandowski prepared in advance. Nadler said he did not.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, pushed to allow Barry Berke, an attorney for the Democrats, to ask questions during today's hearing.
Republican. Rep. Doug Collins pushed back, saying Berke is a consultant and that it is a normal oversight hearing.
“We are not in an impeachment inquiry,” Collins told Nadler, “You can’t just make it up on the fly.”
Nadler responded to Collins, and said, “We are in an impeachment investigation.” says He went on to say it is not “relevant to this question.”
Nadler said consultants have previously been retained and overruled Collins’ point of order.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from California, used her questioning period to ask Corey Lewandowski about the Mueller report's revelation that former Trump campaign chair, Paul Manafort, shared internal polling data with a Russian operative
Lewandowski, Trump's former campaign manager, agreed with Lofgren that "it's a good general rule" that internal polling data is generally not shared broadly, but rather is used by campaigns to formulate strategy. Lewandowski said he didn't know Manafort would share the information and he didn't know whether the Russians had asked for it.
"We know where Mr. Manafort is," Lewandowski said, referring to Manafort being sentenced to prison. He added that he thinks Manafort is "currently available for questioning."
Lewandowski said Rick Gates, one of Manafort's associates, would also be able to answer whether the Russians asked for Trump campaign internal polling data.
Lewandowski also said he didn't think Trump was advised of the "day to day minutiae" of his campaign while he was a candidate. He said the campaign didn't do any internal polling for the first 15 months.
In another contentious moment during today's hearing, Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal admonished Corey Lewandowski for his combative attitude as she pressed him on whether he ever lied to President Trump or the special counsel's office.
"Excuse me, Mr. Lewandowski this is my time. You are not yet in the Senate. You are a witness before the Judiciary committee, please act like it," Jayapal said, subtly digging at Lewandowski's intent to pursue a Senate run in New Hampshire.
Jayapal had been asking Lewandowski about a tweet from the President April this year, where Trump claimed that statements made by witnesses in the Mueller report were "fabricated."
"Mr. Lewandowski, did you lie to the President, and is the President correct that everything in the report is fabricated?" Jayapal asked.
But Lewandowski pushed back, saying, "I won't comment on private conversations, but I don't appreciate the insinuation that I lied about anything. And I've answered it multiple times."
And in a bizarre earlier exchange, Lewandowski told the congresswoman he was unsure if he followed the President on Twitter, adding he "may be the only one who doesn't."
One thing to note: Lewandowski only follows 51 accounts, including Trump's Twitter account, according to his Twitter page.
Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin pressed Corey Lewandowski on his belief in executive privilege. Lewandowski avoided the questions, saying he didn't believe it was his privilege to waive.
That's when Raskin fired back that he didn't believe it was anyone's privilege to waive because he doesn't think it exists — "like the tooth fairy." Lewandowski took offense to this characterization because he said his children were watching the televised hearing.
Here's how the exchange went down:
Raskin: Let me ask you a question, are you representing the White House has told you that they are invoking the executive privilege on your behalf today?
Lewandowski: I don't believe it's an executive privilege, sir. And again, I think we've submitted the letter for your clarification of what the White House has said.
Raskin: Well let me ask you...
Lewandowski: It's not my privilege to waive.
Raskin: Well, I don't think it's anyone's privilege to waive because I don't think it exists, Mr. Lewandowski. I think the whole thing is imaginary. It's like the tooth fairy. You didn't work for the President...
Lewandowski: My children are watching. Thank you, congressman.
Raskin: I'm sorry?
Lewandowski: My children are watching, so thank you for that.
Raskin: Well, I hope the President's not on then.
In a testy exchange with Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, Corey Lewandowski appeared to make a subtle dig at the congressman’s failed presidential campaign by calling him “President Swalwell.”
Swalwell dropped out of the 2020 race for president in July.
Here's that exchange:
Swalwell: Mr. Lewandowski, I’m going to put a slide up and it’s the words President Trump dictated to you on July 19. Can you read what you wrote down?
Lewandowski: I’m happy to have you read it, congressman.
Swalwell: Well why don’t you want to read it Mr. Lewandowski?
Lewandowski: I think you should afford me the same privilege you afforded director Mueller.
Swalwell: Would you like to read it?
Lewandowski: No, you’re welcome to read it.
Swalwell: Are you ashamed of the words that you wrote down?
Lewandowski: President Swalwell, I’m very happy of what I’ve written, but you’re welcome to read it if you’d like.
Swalwell: Are you ashamed to read it out loud?
Lewandowski: I’m not ashamed of anything in my life, are you?
Lewandowski also countered a question from Swalwell about whether he routinely placed notes the President asked him to take down in a safe by saying, “It’s a big safe, congressman, there’s a lot of guns in there.”
Swalwell largely based his campaign around addressing gun violence.
Swalwell: Have you ever put any words that the President asked you to write down before in a safe, or was this the first time you’d done that?
Lewandowski: I believe it’s my standard operating procedure when taking notes, Congressman.
Swalwell: So every note you take of the President you put in a safe?
Lewandowski: I don’t — It’s a big safe, congressman, there’s a lot of guns in there.
In response to a request for a parliamentary inquiry by Rep. Eric Swalwell after Corey Lewandowski refused to answer questions about his discussions with President Trump, chairman Jerry Nadler admonished Lewandowski for "aiding" Trump in obstruction of congressional oversight.
Nadler invoked the Nixon impeachment, reminding Lewandowski that one of the articles of impeachment against former President Richard Nixon was based on obstruction of Congress.
Here's what he said:
"Mr. Lewandowski, when you refuse to answer these questions, you are obstructing the work of our committee. You are also proving our point for the American people to see — the President is intent on obstructing our legitimate oversight. You are aiding him in that obstruction. And I will remind you that Article 3 of the impeachment against President Nixon was based on obstruction of Congress. You are instructed to answer the questions."
Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, took a jab at former Vice President Joe Biden, who is also a Democratic presidential candidate.
Gaetz was delivering remarks about the committee hearing when he mentioned Biden and his performance at last week's Democratic debates.
"Last week it was the judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler who said, 'what we're doing is very clear. It's been very clear. It continues to be very clear. The speaker has backed us at every point along the way,'" Gaetz said.
"This process has been about as clear as Joe Biden's last answer to race relations that involved turning on the record player. We don't know where we are or what we're doing," he added.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York, critiqued Corey Lewandowski’s conduct during testimony, telling the former Trump campaign manager "you are not on the campaign trail yet."
Lewandowski is considering a Senate run in his home state of New Hampshire.
Here's what Jeffries said:
"Before I begin, let me remind you, Mr. Lewandowski, that this is not a Republican primary campaign. You are not on the campaign trail yet. This is the House Judiciary Committee, act like you know the difference."