WASHINGTON — Ahead of what is expected to be a combative congressional hearing Tuesday, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said he is "excited" about a chance to defend the president in front of what he characterized as "angry Democrats."

Lewandowski has been subpoenaed to appear before the House Judiciary Committee as part of its ongoing probe into whether President Trump obstructed the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

"Excited about the opportunity to remind the American people today there was no collusion no obstruction," Lewandowski said in a morning tweet. "There were lots of angry Democrats who tried to take down a duly elected President. Tune in."

"#Senate2020," Lewandowski added, referencing his consideration of a challenge next year to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.

Trump last month touted the possibility of a Lewandowski candidacy in New Hampshire, calling his former aide "a fantastic guy" who "would be a great senator." Lewandowksi has said he plans to make a decision about the race next month.

Lewandowski's appearance on Tuesday marks the first time House Democrats will have a key witness in the Mueller investigation testifying in public - a move they welcome even if he is fiercely loyal to Trump.

According to the Mueller report, Trump tried to get Lewandowski to persuade then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to limit the special counsel's investigation, one of the possible areas of obstruction laid out by Mueller's team.

The White House, in a letter Monday, told House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., that Lewandowski is not allowed to answer any questions about his communications with the president beyond what was in the Mueller report.

"Mr. Lewandowski's conversations with the President and with senior advisers to the President are protected from disclosure by long-settled principles protecting Executive Branch confidentiality interests and, as a result, the White House has directed Mr. Lewandowski not to provide information about such communications beyond the information provided in the portions of the report that have already been disclosed to the Committee," the letter reads.

Still, Democrats believe they will be able to impugn Trump by merely having Lewandowski confirm publicly what he already told Mueller's team.

Tuesday's hearing was also scheduled to include testimony from Rick Dearborn, a former Trump campaign adviser and ex-White House deputy chief of staff, and Rob Porter, a former White House staff secretary.

But Trump has blocked their appearances, claiming they are "absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony with respect to matters related to their service as senior advisers to the President," according to a letter sent to Nadler on Monday by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.

In a radio interview last month, Lewandowski said he was "happy to come" testify publicly before the Judiciary Committee and that a subpoena was not necessary.

"They didn't have to subpoena me," Lewandowski said during an interview on Fox News Radio. "They could have just said, 'Hey Corey, will you show up?' I'm happy to come . . . because I want to explain that there was no collusion, that there was no obstruction."

"I am an open book," he added. "I want to go and remind the American people that these guys are on a witch hunt, right?"

In his report, Mueller said he did not find sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges of illegal coordination between Trump or members of his campaign and Russia.

He offered no conclusions about whether Trump had obstructed the probe but detailed several episodes of possible obstruction. Attorney General William Barr subsequently decided not to bring obstruction charges.

The Washington Post's Josh Dawsey contributed to this report.

Washington Post News Service (DC)

9/17/2019 7:55:26 AM Central Daylight Time

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