White House Communication Director Hope Hicks could face criminal prosecution after she admitted telling “white lies” to defend President Donald Trump, a former Justice Department official said on Wednesday.
During a panel discussion on CNN, Justice Correspondent Evan Perez explained that Hicks told the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that she was guilty of fabricating “white lies” for the president, but she refused to say what she had lied about.
Former Pentagon and State Department spokesperson John Kirby pointed out that lying is a fireable offense, especially for communications officials like Hicks.
“If I had [told white lies] and anybody found out that I did then I would have been fired by the secretary of defense and/or the secretary of state,” Kirby said. “You take an oath to the American people to serve in public office. One of those oaths is you are going to protect and defend the Constitution. And that means telling the truth. That means being honest, both offscreen and onscreen.”
CNN legal analyst Lauren Coats, a former federal prosecutor, observed that Hicks may have open herself up to criminal prosecution if she is caught telling “white lies” to special counsel Robert Mueller or his investigators.
“Is there a difference between a white lie and a big lie?” CNN host John Berman asked Coats.
“Not if you’re Robert Mueller,” Coats insisted. “We have already seen at least two to three people [charged for lying]. If you are lying generally then you’re going to get prosecuted for it. You’re going to have a guilty plea. So, there’s no real semantics-based nuance argument you could make.”
“It sounds like in her private life as a citizen for Donald Trump’s organization, she was the spin doctor,” Coats continued. “That role changes when you are the communications director of the White House and it especially changes if you are talking to the FBI, a chief investigator or even congressmen.”
Berman concluded by noting that Hicks reportedly told members of the House Intelligence Community that she had been advised not to lie to Mueller’s investigative team.
Watch the video below from CNN.