Acting AG Testifies Before US House Panel

Saul Bowman
February 11, 2019

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday in the first major hearing that showcases the new Democratic majority's oversight of the Justice Department and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) pressed Whitaker about Mueller's probe. "And I have not interfered in any way with the special counsel's investigation". Nadler added that he will likely ask Whitaker to return for another round of questioning at some point in the future, possibly under subpoena.

That drew a response from Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the committee.

"Bring your popcorn", he said.

The Maryland congressman noted that Whitaker's "fascinating career" included having "owned a daycare center, a concrete supply business, trailer sales, GOP activist, US attorney...."

Democrats pushed Whitaker on whether he was still critical of the special counsel investigation he is now in charge of.

"In your final week, keep your hands off the Mueller investigation", Democratic Representative Hakeem Jeffries told Whitaker. "You'd stop a witch hunt, wouldn't you?" On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to recommend the confirmation of President Trump's permanent successor to Sessions: William Barr, who previously served as George H.W. Bush's attorney general in the early 1990s.

"I share your concern with the possibility that a media outlet was tipped off to Mr. The official report will go directly to the Department of Justice".

'The attorney general was in the middle of saying something.

He was asked whether he thought the special counsel was honest.

An aide to a senior House Republican said of Whitaker's jab during a hearing recess: 'I've never seen that one before.

He was also pushed to explain his decision not to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation. The special counsel is honest and "is complying with all regulations".

On Friday, an hour before Whitaker was due to appear, Nadler, along with Reps.

Whitaker faced most scrutiny during the hearing over why he was chosen by Trump to head the Justice Department, rather than the normal line of succession rules being followed. Whitaker repeatedly seemed to chew away at committee members' time through long-winded and indirect answers.

The stalemate ended Thursday evening after the committee chairman said the committee wouldn't issue a subpoena if Whitaker came voluntarily. Jackson Lee had asked Whitaker whether he ever appeared before an oversight hearing or was confirmed in the Senate, and Nadler demanded he "answer the question as asked". That referred to the time limits for questions - one normally addressed by lawmakers, not witnesses.

Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill February 08, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Democrats demanded he recuse himself, and have called for an investigation into his decision not to recuse despite the recommendation from DOJ ethics officials.

Republicans made clear they regarded Friday's hearing as a partisan exercise and a waste, given Whitaker's status as a probable short-timer.

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