That was actually not the critical information. More from Nadler’s statement: “President Trump’s lawyers entered more than 150 objections on the basis of ‘absolute immunity’ for senior White House officials. These interruptions are a gimmick designed to interfere with the Committee’s investigation. . . . The Trump Administration’s claim of ‘absolute immunity’ has no basis in law.” He explained that courts have rejected absolute immunity claims in the past. Moreover, the “White House knows that it cannot invoke executive privilege — or any privilege — as to the information that was publicly released in the Mueller Report, which is why they are making this absurd claim.”
So what is this really all about? Surely, House Democrats knew that Hicks would be blocked from answering questions relating to her time in the White House. Rather, this was an evidence-gathering exercise for the House as it moves almost certainly to the courts to challenge the administration’s defiance of subpoenas, its refusal to allow witnesses to testify and its habit of making spurious objections to both document requests and live testimony. Now, they can do more than complain about stonewalling. (From The Post’s report: “Democrats called the [immunity] assertion bogus, accusing Trump officials of trying to stonewall their investigations into Trump, his finances, businesses and administration.”)
Democrats now have specifics — 155 objections — which they can take to a federal court judge to force witnesses to testify. In addition, if the House ever does move toward impeachment, it will include this pattern of unwarranted objections in its articles of impeachment — just as the House Judiciary Committee did for President Richard M. Nixon: “In his conduct of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, contrary to his oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has failed without lawful cause or excuse to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas issued by the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives . . . and willfully disobeyed such subpoenas.”
We may have wished Hicks would have shown more spine than previous witnesses. Former prosecutor Joyce White Vance observes, "Hicks could have told the American people the truth about President Trump today. Instead, she hid behind her lawyers and his. She may only be a footnote in history, but it won’t be a kind one.” This is true for virtually all of Trump’s associates past and present, but we know those in the president’s orbit didn’t get there because of their sterling character.
Democrats advocating impeachment may be frustrated and disappointed with the results of the Hicks interview. However, if the hearings had the title “impeachment,” they would be in exactly the same position. Courts, so far, have not found that the absence of formal impeachment proceedings should be held against the House. The wheels of justice are moving oh so slowly, but at least they are moving.