WASHINGTON — Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski ripped members of a key congressional panel on Tuesday for what he deemed excessive oversight of President Donald Trump and his administration.
“This country has spent over three years and forty million taxpayer dollars on these investigations, and it’s now clear the investigation was populated by many Trump haters who had their own agenda to take down a duly elected president of the United States,” Lewandowski said in his opening statement to the House Judiciary Committee.
He added: “As for actual collusion or conspiracy, there was none. What there has been however, is harassment of this president from the day he won the election.”
“We as a nation would be better served if elected officials like yourself concentrated your efforts to combat the true crises facing our country as opposed to going down rabbit holes like this hearing,” Lewandowski added.
In a tweet, Trump applauded Lewandowski’s opening statement.
Such a beautiful Opening Statement by Corey Lewandowski! Thank you Corey! @CLewandowski_
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 17, 2019
The committee subpoenaed Lewandowski last month along with former White House aides Rick Dearborn and Rob Porter.
On Monday, the White House informed the committee that it had asserted immunity to prevent Dearborn and Porter from testifying. The White House did not try to prevent Lewandowski’s testimony but limited his cooperation to questions related to events that took place before Trump assumed office.
During the hearing Lewandowski adhered to the White House’s invocation of partial immunity.
“And I recognize it is not my privilege, but I am respecting the White House’s decision,” Lewandowski said in response to a question from Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) about a conversation the former campaign manager is believed to have had with Trump. Lewandowski gave similar responses to Nadler and other lawmakers when asked about his private conversations with Trump, refusing to disclose the requested information.
Lewandowski said that he was not involved in the decision to constrain his testimony and that he did not speak with anyone at the White House about it.
Lewandowski’s demeanor during his testimony veered from polite and professional to flippant and testy. He repeatedly refused to read aloud excerpts from the report by former White House Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III that were shown on a screen when asked to do so and instead countered by requesting lawmakers to read the statements. He characterized a lengthy question from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) as “just a rant” and he referred to himself as a “good-looking man” in a retort to a query from Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).
Lewandowski served as Trump’s first campaign manager, from January 2015 to June 2016. Lewandowski has previously testified in private before both the House and Senate intelligence committees.
Tuesday’s hearing is the committee’s first under rules adopted last week to provide guidelines for an impeachment investigation.
The guidelines allow the committee’s lawyers to question witnesses for an additional hour after members have concluded questions. The guidelines also permit the committee to receive evidence in closed session and allow the president’s attorneys to respond in writing to testimonial evidence.