The first impeachment hearing of US President Donald Trump by the House Judiciary Committee has devolved into chaos after his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski declined to field questions posed by the Democrats on the panel.
During the hearing on Tuesday, Lewandowski — a former aide and confidant to Trump — praised his boss and repeatedly tangled with Democrats looking to confront him.
Lewandowski, who pledged in his opening statement to be cooperative and forthright, repeatedly refused to answer questions about conversations with the president and repeatedly pointed to White House claims of executive privilege — even though he never worked in the White House.
Lewandowski was the first impeachment witness to appear before the committee since former Special Counsel Robert Mueller briefed the committee about his inquiry.
Meuller’s investigation was focused on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and Trump’s potential obstruction of justice.
Trump had ordered two former White House aides not to testify before the committee.
“I think that this fake Russia collusion narrative is the greatest crime committed against the American people in our generation, if not ever,” Lewandowski said after a GOP member gave him the floor to describe the consequences of the Mueller probe. “Members of certain bodies refuse to accept those election results.”
Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) called Trump’s former campaign manager a “loyal soldier” who “chickened out” of carrying through with the president’s orders, while Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, claimed that the witness was there to “participate in a cover-up.”
Republicans on the panel described the hearing as both partisan and trivial.
At the end of the hearing, Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler censured Lewandowski and told the former Trump campaign manager that, “Your behavior in this hearing room has been completely unacceptable.”