Wednesday, 20 February, 2019

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker Infuriates House Dems at Hearing

39;Your Five Minutes Is Up:' Acting AG Whitaker Challenges Chairman Nadler Over Repetitive Mueller Questions Source AP
Jeannette Daniel | 10 February, 2019, 10:41

At 9:30 a.m. ET, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

President Donald Trump weighed in Saturday on the "hatred and scorn" coming from House Democrats questioning acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker during a hearing Friday.

Other Democrats scolded Whitaker, with Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas, sternly telling him his humor was not appreciated.

The hearing concluded with Nadler calling Whitaker's testimony inconsistent "at best".

In a combative congressional hearing, Whitaker said he had not talked to Trump about the probe into whether Moscow tried to tip the 2016 presidential election, or "interfered in any way" in the investigation since taking his role in November.

The House hearing almost derailed on Thursday when Democrats on the panel voted to authorize Nadler to issue a subpoena to compel Whitaker to appear and answer questions.

Demings, who referred to her time as Orlando police chief, told Whitaker, "I took an oath just like you did and I took that oath very, very seriously, to uphold the Constitution and to protect this country from all enemies, foreign and domestic".

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"I have been on the record about my respect for Bob Mueller", Whitaker said. "That would have been considered a development that I would have been briefed on and I was briefed on that". After Jeff Sessions was sacked last November, Whitaker was raised to the role apparently on the merits of his history of denouncing the special counsel investigation on cable TV, and promptly refused to recuse himself from that investigation despite a top Justice Department ethics official advising him to do so.

Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, called the hearing a "dog and pony show" and criticised Democrats for disclosing derogatory information about Whitaker's business dealings hours before the hearing.

"I control this time, Mr. Whitaker", said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., when Whitaker accused him of challenging his character.

The tone of the hearing had been teased on Thursday when Nadler threatened to subpoena Whitaker, while the DOJ threatened to boycott the hearing.

"In light of that commitment", department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement, Whitaker looked forward to going to Capitol Hill and discussing "the great work" carried out by the department. He added that he has not denied any funds to the special counsel's investigation. The letter declared Whitaker wouldn't appear before the panel, unless members withdrew a subpoena, compelling his testimony.

Trump's naming of Whitaker as acting attorney general caused controversy in part because it meant that the president's appointee oversees the probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into whether Moscow meddled in the election and colluded with Trump's campaign. But Whitaker has not appeared to take any actions with regard to the Mueller investigation, and he's left the day-to-day supervision to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was supervising the probe when Sessions was attorney general and recused himself. "You don't run the Congress of the United States, and you don't run the Judiciary Committee".

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