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Corey Lewandowski Testifies Before Congress: Live Updates




Mr. Lewandowski pops up frequently in Mr. Mueller’s more than 400-page report, including in its discussion of Trump campaign contacts with Russians. But the Judiciary Committee’s primary area of interest centers on Mr. Lewandowski’s interactions with Mr. Trump in the summer of 2017, when the president was trying through various channels to influence the work of the special counsel, then newly appointed.

As Mr. Mueller recounts in Volume II of his report, on possible obstruction of justice by Mr. Trump, the president met with Mr. Lewandowski in the Oval Office in June 2017 only two days after he directed Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel at the time, to fire the special counsel. This time, Mr. Trump criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia investigation and asked Mr. Lewandowski to deliver the attorney general a message that he dictated on the spot.

It said that Mr. Sessions should give a speech announcing that Mr. Trump had been treated unfairly and that he would limit the scope of the special counsel investigation. According to notes Mr. Lewandowski shared with Mr. Mueller’s team, the dictation continued:

Now a group of people want to subvert the Constitution of the United States. I am going to meet with the special prosecutor to explain this is very unfair and let the special prosecutor move forward with investigating election meddling for future elections so that nothing can happen in future elections.

Mr. Lewandowski said he would deliver the message, but the request languished. Mr. Trump followed up during another Oval Office meeting in July, and Mr. Lewandowski told the special counsel that the president told him if Mr. Sessions would not meet with him, he should tell the attorney general he was fired.

Instead of delivering the message, Mr. Lewandowski tried to enlist the help of Rick A. Dearborn, a former Sessions aide who worked in the White House. Ultimately, neither man communicated the message to the attorney general, but Mr. Trump would continue to publicly criticize Mr. Sessions and privately seek his removal.

The Democrats’ investigation has been plodding so far, in large part because of the White House’s repeated intervention to block the appearances of key witnesses. They hope Mr. Lewandowski can help change that.

His appearance will be the first time the Judiciary Committee will hear publicly from a fact witness to the events that Mr. Mueller chronicles. And though the White House has also put limitations on his testimony — he is permitted to speak only about his work for the Trump campaign and material included in the public version of Mr. Mueller’s report, limiting any new fact-finding — Democrats still feel there is ample ground for them to cover.

To that end, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the committee’s chairman, and other Democrats will be laboring to try to bring portions of Mr. Mueller’s dense written report to life for rolling television cameras.

Because he will be under oath, Mr. Lewandowski may have little choice but to publicly confirm again what he privately told Mr. Mueller. But that doesn’t mean he can’t turn himself into a firecracker of a witness, loudly distracting from presidential obstruction and showering Democrats in sparks and smoke.


And given that he has been considering a run for the Senate from New Hampshire for the last several weeks, Mr. Lewandowski and his allies see the hearing as an opportunity to promote his allegiance to Mr. Trump in a way that could benefit him politically.

In a Twitter post early Tuesday, Mr. Lewandowski offered a sample of what was to come.

Mr. Lewandowski has talked to allies about recapturing the outsider energy that Mr. Trump tapped into during the Republican primary in New Hampshire in February 2016. The hearing gives him a powerful platform to attack Democrats as bent on destroying the president, and to portray himself as a fierce defender of his former boss. It will be a chance for Mr. Lewandowski to show the public how Trumpian he can be.

That could boost him in a primary field that already has other Senate candidates in New Hampshire. If he does declare his candidacy, it would likely be in the coming weeks.

Mr. Lewandowski displayed his brawling approach in an interview last month with Fox News Radio, when he called Democrats on the committee “such phonies,” accused Mr. Nadler of being captive to “the far left wing” and said the whole inquiry could be attributed to Democrats’ refusal to accept a simple fact: “Donald Trump destroyed Hillary Clinton by a massive electoral margin.”

“I’m happy to come, right, because I want to explain that there was no collusion, that there was no obstruction,” Mr. Lewandowski said. “I am an open book. I want to go and remind the American people that these guys are on a witch hunt.”

The witness table at Tuesday’s hearing was supposed to be a good deal more crowded. Democrats had issued subpoenas for Mr. Dearborn and Rob Porter, the former White House staff secretary, to appear with Mr. Lewandowski.

But on Monday, the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, told the committee that Mr. Trump had directed both men not to show up because they were “absolutely immune” from congressional subpoenas as former senior presidential advisers.

If that claim sounds familiar, it is. The White House has asserted that same immunity claim over other potential witnesses, most notably Mr. McGahn, the former White House counsel who is omnipresent in Mr. Mueller’s report.

The House filed a lawsuit in federal court last month challenging the claim in the case of Mr. McGahn. And a ruling in that case could affect whether Mr. Dearborn and Mr. Porter ultimately have to testify. In the meantime, late Monday, Mr. Nadler called the White House’s position “a shocking and dangerous assertion of executive privilege and absolute immunity.”

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

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