Yesterday, House Democrats scored by far their most important victory to date in their investigation into Donald Trump’s scandals. Unfortunately, because we’re in such overwhelmingly cynical times, quite a few members of the Resistance were unable to process that this was a victory at all.
What happened yesterday is that Hope Hicks, who officially served as Donald Trump’s White House Communications Director and unofficially served as his closest political confidant, has agreed to testify to the House Judiciary Committee about his obstruction of justice crimes next Wednesday. This is huge. There are a few key witnesses the House Democrats were trying to land – Hicks, Don McGahn, Annie Donaldson – and now they’ve got one. In fact they’ve arguably landed the most important of the three. But observers were quick to crap all over this good news.
Some Resistance members on social media insisted, without logic or explanation, that Hope Hicks will back out of her testimony at the last minute. Others threw a fit because Hicks’ testimony will be behind closed doors, and then publicly released via transcript. They’re insisting that House Democrats should have somehow magically found a way to get Hicks to testify in public. Of course the reality is that if the Democrats took Hicks to court to try to force public testimony from her, that process would take months, and the cynics would then complain about that.
There is also the caveat that Hope Hicks isn’t promising to answer every single question she gets asked, as Donald Trump’s baseless claim of executive privilege hasn’t yet been shot down in the courts. But again, if House Democrats waited to have Hicks testify until after that court battle has been fought and won, her testimony would be taking place months from now.
The bottom line is this: none of the caveats matter. Hope Hicks knows most of Donald Trump’s campaign secrets and most of his White House secrets, and she’s agreed to testify before Congress about his obstruction crimes. If she were playing for Team Trump, she’d be refusing to testify at all, like McGahn did. She’s clearly not trying to protect Trump here. Nor is she particularly interested in whatever retaliation he might try against her.
This is a major victory for the House Democrats. It’s the kind of testimony that could vastly shift public opinion on Donald Trump’s crimes and kickstart impeachment. Most people aren’t at home during the day to watch the hearings live anyway; it’s the media coverage and social media engagement that evening that shapes public opinion, and that’ll be driven by the transcript. This is the kind of moment House Democrats have been trying to pull off for weeks. Now it’s six days away. It’s okay to see it for the big deal that it is, rather than being fatalistic about it.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report