Acting AG Matthew Whitaker tells lawmakers he hasn't interfered in Mueller investigation

Monday, 11 Feb, 2019

Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., about the conditions under which he would testify.

The stalemate broke in the evening after Rep. Jerrold Nadler of NY, the committee chairman, said the panel wouldn't issue a subpoena if Whitaker voluntarily appeared for the hearing.

"We have followed the special counsel's regulations to a T", Mr. Whitaker said.

Whitaker on learning of Roger Stone indictment before it became public: "I have, again, been briefed on the special counsel's investigation". The panel had given Whitaker plenty of opportunities to prepare for the questioning, Nadler argued, but it was "clear" he hadn't.

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., tried to adjourn the hearing before it started, saying it was an attempt at character assassination of Trump.

"Bring your popcorn", he said.

The House Judiciary Committee was severely stacked against Mr. Whitaker with 25 Democrats and only 10 Republicans. "You'd stop a witch hunt, wouldn't you?"

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to support William P. Barr, Trump's pick for attorney general, and the Republican-led Senate is expected to confirm him in coming weeks. "The official report will go directly to the Department of Justice". Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein oversaw the investigation until Whitaker was appointed after Sessions's resignation.

"Have you ever been asked to approve any request or action to be taken by the special counsel?"

Whitaker: "Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up". I'm asking you a question.

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

Jordan and conservative Republicans have sought unsuccessfully to gain access to the mostly redacted three-page memo that lays out the parameters of the special counsel's investigation. Whitaker was an outspoken critic of the investigation before arriving at the Justice Department in 2017.

Asked whether he has spoken with President Trump about the Southern District of New York's investigation into his former lawyer Michael Cohen, Whitaker wouldn't say. Here's one: Trump's acting attorney general involved in firm that scammed veterans out of life savings. "The message to witnesses here is, if you make the time and effort to appear of your own accord, Democrats are going to subpoena you anyway".

Whitaker refused to come before the House Judiciary until its Chair, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, announced he would serve Whitaker a subpoena if he didn't willingly testify. Nadler asked Whitaker if he and Trump had discussed the ongoing probe.

"The time for this administration to postpone accountability is over", Nadler said.

Whitaker toggled between defending his role in the special counsel's investigation and echoing the president's talking points, conceding for instance that while foreign interference in USA elections was a problem, so too was voter fraud - a key issue for Republicans, but one that Democrats say is overstated.

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