A combative Corey Lewandowski frustrated House Democrats at every turn, as their first salvo in what will ultimately be a fruitless impeachment effort against President Trump quickly degraded into a hyper-partisan circus.
The House Judiciary Committee’s first hearing as part of its Trump “impeachment investigation” was a five hour fiasco where Democratic members of the committee traded insults and accusations with the President’s former campaign manager, who refused to answer many of their questions. On the other hand, during their time, Republicans rose to defend and heap praise on Lewandowski.
However, by the end of the day’s testimony, the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler, told Lewandowski his “behavior in this hearing room has been completely unacceptable,” and said holding him “in contempt” is “certainly under consideration.”
Lewandowski immediately frustrated Nadler, the committee’s chairman, during the Democrat’s first question early in the day – when the witness, in an apparent effort to stall for time, repeatedly asked Nadler to point to the specific section in the Robert Mueller report related to his question.
Lewandowski was following direct orders given by the White House not to discuss confidential conversations with the President beyond what was already public in the former special counsel’s report.
Asked by Nadler if he met alone with President Donald Trump in June 2017, Lewandowski said, “Could you read the exact language of the report? I don’t have it available to me.”
“I don’t think I need to do that,” Nadler shot back. “I have limited time.”
Asked the question again, Lewandowski told Nadler he needed him to “refresh” his memory of what was in the report. He demanded that Democrats provide him a copy of the report, sending Democratic staff scrambling to find one.
“He’s filibustering,” a frustrated Nadler said.
Amid the back-and-forth, the top Republican on the committee, Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, moved to adjourn the hearing, forcing a failed voice vote that caused further delay, before questioning resumed from other lawmakers.
Lewandowski later declined to play along with certain questions. New York Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries asked Lewandowski if he was Trump’s “hitman, the bag man, the lookout, or all of the above?”
“I think I’m the good looking man, actually,” Lewandowski snarkily replied.
Lewandowski is considering a run for the Senate in New Hampshire in 2020. His loyalty to the President and the GOP will loom large if he indeed chooses to do so. In a reminder of the political backdrop, during a recess, the witness tweeted out a link to a website promoting his possible candidacy. And Democrats referenced his ambitions.
“You are not on the campaign trail yet,” Jeffries said. “This is the House Judiciary Committee. Act like you know the difference.”
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As expected, the hearing was contentious from its outset. Nadler opened by saying the hearing is part of efforts to “determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment with respect to President Trump.” After saying as much, he immediately attacked the White House for keeping two other former Trump aides — Rick Dearborn and Rob Porter — from appearing. The two refused to show up on orders from the administration.
“This is a cover-up, plain and simple,” Nadler said of the White House’s efforts to block testimony from Dearborn and Porter. At another point, Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee told Lewandowski, “You are obviously here to block any reasonable inquiry into the truth or not of this administration.”
Lewandowski fired back at her, as he did throughout the five hours of grueling questions, saying to Lee that he was unable to give her a response because it wasn’t a question but a “rant.”
During his questioning, Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson said, “Mr. Lewandowski, you are like a fish being cleaned with a spoon — it’s very hard to get an answer out of you.”
Lewandowski appeared to mock California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell’s unsuccessful bid for the White House earlier this year, calling him “President Swalwell” at one point during questioning. Rhode Island Democratic Rep. David Cicilline suggested that the committee hold Lewandowski in contempt over his refusal to cooperate with Democratic questions.
In Lewandowski’s own opening statement, he also immediately went on the attack, railing against the Trump investigations.
“It is now clear the investigation was populated by many Trump haters who had their own agenda – to try and take down a duly elected president of the United States,” he said. “As for actual collusion or conspiracy, there was none. What there has been, however, is harassment of this president from the day he won the election.”
The President was apparently watching, and tweeted: “Such a beautiful Opening Statement by Corey Lewandowski! Thank you Corey!”