* Florida Republican Rep. Tom Rooney blamed Democrats for leaking snippets of White House communications director Hope Hicks’ congressional testimony.
* Hicks testified Tuesday before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
* “We’re literally bringing people in for nine hours just so the Democrats can leak to the press something as ridiculous as ‘white lies,’” Rooney told CNN’s Erin Burnett.
The DC Newsbreak with Martina Markota
Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence are being accused once again of leaking inaccurate information about the panel’s Russia investigation, this time from testimony given on Tuesday by White House communications director Hope Hicks.
In an interview on CNN on Wednesday, Rep. Tom Rooney, a Florida Republican, accused Democrats of leaking Hicks’ comment in her nine-hour interview that she has told “white lies” on behalf of President Donald Trump.
Hicks’ remarks were first reported by The New York Times. Numerous other outlets picked up the story, touting it as a bombshell.
But Rooney told CNN’s Erin Burnett that Hicks’ comments — as reported by the press — were innocuous. He also asserted that Hicks fell victim to “a trap” set by Democrats. The White House aide tendered her resignation on Wednesday, and it is unknown whether her testimony had anything to do with the decision.
“We’ve interviewed scores of witnesses and now we’ve gotten to the point now where we’re literally bringing people in for nine hours just so the Democrats can leak to the press something as ridiculous as ‘white lies,’” said Rooney, who was in the room when Hicks was being interviewed.
Rooney told Burnett that Hicks was initially asked whether she has ever lied on behalf of Trump. He said he chimed in at that point and asked for more specification on whether she was being asked if she has lied for Trump about the Russia investigation or her testimony.
“To that she said she has not lied with regard to any of those things,” said Rooney, who added that Hicks was not the first person in the room to use the term “white lies.”
“So then the question is, so you are talking about white lies, and she repeated that. It wasn’t exactly in that time frame, but that’s how the term white lies came out,” said Rooney.
“It was a trap, Erin. It was a trap and that is what our investigation has become,” he added.
CNN also reported on Wednesday that Hicks said that the white lies she has told for Trump were about small matters, such as saying that Trump was in a meeting when he actually was not.
Rooney also said that because of the leaks, he asked Texas Rep. Mike Conaway, who is chairing the House panel’s Russia investigation, to end the probe.
Democrats on the committee have been accused of being behind several inaccurate leaks throughout the Russia probe.
Trump has also accused California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, of “illegally” leaking confidential committee information.
Democrats have been accused of being behind a false leak to CNN shortly after Donald Trump Jr. testified before the committee.
CNN reported that Donald Trump Jr. was sent an email on Sept. 4, 2016 with a link to hacked Wikileaks documents that had not been made public at the time. It turned out that the email was actually sent on Sept. 14, 2016, a day after the underlying documents were publicly released.
Trump Jr. called for an investigation of committee Democrats over the leak.
Democrats were also behind the inaccurate leak last month that California Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the committee, refused to say in a closed-door meeting whether he had coordinated with the White House on the release of a memo accusing the FBI and Justice Department of misleading the FISA court to obtain a spy warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The Daily Beast, which received the leak, initially reported that Nunes would not say whether he worked with the White House. But a transcript of the meeting showed that he did make the denial.
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