The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee blasted former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski for being "unprepared" for questioning on Wednesday.
“Today, however he refused to answer questions like [former White House chief strategist] Steve Bannon [did Tuesday] that referred to anything after he left the campaign,” Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told reporters, noting that Lewandowski has never been nor is not currently a Trump administration official, so he cannot claim executive privilege like did Bannon.
According to Schiff, Lewandowski was unable to answer the questions because he was not adequately prepared.
“Lewandowski said that he was not prepared to answer those questions today, but that he would return to the committee at some later date to answer those questions. This in my view is completely unacceptable,” the California Democrat said, adding that if House Intelligence “followed the practice that we maintained yesterday” in subpoenaing Bannon, “We should have subpoenaed him today and compelled answers those questions.”
Bannon was subpoenaed Tuesday by the panel in the middle of its closed-door questioning of him for refusing to answer key questions. According to Schiff, Bannon was told by the White House ahead of the hearing to not respond to certain topics.
Schiff said Lewandowski was asked by lawmakers if he had talked with President Trump within the last 24 hours — a question which he declined to answer.
“[Lewandowski] has expressed a willingness to come back and answer these questions, but to me that is unacceptable to have a witness come before us and decide that for the purposes of today’s interview, ‘These are categories of questions I’m placing off limits,’” Schiff said. He added: “We as an investigative committee cannot allow that to become the routine — to allow witnesses to decide when and where they are willing to answer questions.”
But Schiff had less harsh words for White House deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn, who interviewed with the House Intelligence Committee earlier in the day.
Without naming him by name, only calling him an “executive branch witness,” Schiff said Dearborn “answered every question, was fully cooperative, invoked no executive privilege, invoked no anticipation of executive privilege, answered our questions about events during the campaign, answered our questions about events during the transition, answered our questions about events during the current administration.”
Schiff said the committee is expecting Bannon to return “in the very near future,” but that a contempt resolution against him is not off the table.
“The majority has when they are really interested in getting answers, shown a willingness to go to court to do so as they did with the bank records for Fusion GPS. I would hope that they would show the same determination when it comes to getting an answer from Steve Bannon, but we will have to wait and see,” Schiff concluded.