Whitaker Cuts off Nadler: 'I See That Your Five Minutes is Up

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker

Bill Clark via Getty Images Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker

Congressman Jerry Nadler clashed with President Trump's acting Attorney General, Matthew Whitaker, at a contentious House Judiciary Committee hearing on Friday, as House Democrats sought to push Whitaker on his role in overseeing the Mueller investigation.

"In your capacity as Acting Attorney General, have you ever been asked to approve any request or action to be taken by the Special Counsel?" asked House Judiciary Chair Nadler.

Whitaker said that there are several instances of "ongoing litigation" on the matter and that he could not draw conclusions at this time.

Hours later, Nadler responded that if Whitaker appeared before the panel "prepared to respond to questions from our members, then I assure you there will be no need for the committee to issue a subpoena on or before February 8". But when Jordan asked him whether specific names were in the document - which Jordan charged would go against Justice Department policy - Whitaker demurred.

He instead pointed to committee protocol restricting the amount of time for each members' question, as he tried to blow off that and another question Nadler asked about his oversight of Mueller's probe.

Steve Cohen grilled Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker Friday over the Mueller probe and the lease of Washington, D.C.'s "Old Post Office" building for the Trump International Hotel.

According to CNN, former Trump associate Roger Stone was "one of the last key campaign associates" to be investigated. Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries later railed at Whitaker.

In his opening statement, Whitaker said that while he would address the committee's questions, he would not reveal details of his communications with the Republican president.

Nadler will ask Whitaker to return at a later, undecided date to answer further questions, threatening to "use a subpoena if we have to".

Whitaker is likely in his final days as the country's chief law enforcement officer because the Senate plans to vote as soon as next week on confirming Barr.

"I have no reason to believe he's not honest, so yes I do believe he's honest", Whitaker said. "As part of that work, I fully intend to call you back for an interview, under subpoena if necessary, and I expect more fulsome answers at that time".

"We have followed the special counsel's regulations to a T", Whitaker told the House Judiciary Committee. He stopped short of asserting executive privilege, the contention that a president needs to be able to rely on confidential counsel from his advisers.

Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, asked Whitaker to explain what was in the "scoping memo" that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote about the Mueller investigation in August 2017.

The hearing was the first, and likely only, chance for newly empowered Democrats in the majority to grill an attorney general they perceive as a Trump loyalist and whose appointment they suspect was aimed at suppressing investigations of the Republican president.

But this week, Nadler and the Department of Justice fought in a series of letters released to the public, as Democrats voted to give Nadler the power to subpoena Whitaker should he not appear or refuse to answer the committee's questions.

Justice Department ethics officials had recommended Whitaker recuse himself from overseeing the Russian Federation investigation, a step he chose not to take.

Whitaker has come under scrutiny for his involvement with the invention promotion company, which was accused of misleading consumers and has been under investigation by the FBI.

As IJR Red reported, Collins called the hearing "pointless" and a "character assassination".

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