Published: Sun, February 10, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Whitaker: I Have Not Interfered with Mueller Investigation

Whitaker: I Have Not Interfered with Mueller Investigation

Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee Friday, widely rebuked by Democrats, has also earned the scorn of a former leading Federal Bureau of Investigation official.

"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.

"I am here voluntarily, we have agreed to five-minute rounds", Whitaker said. We have agreed to five-minute rounds, ' said Whitaker, the only one in the room who appeared unaware that committee chairmen can bend the rules almost at will.

Nadler made clear early Thursday that he did not want to have to subpoena Whitaker, but said a "series of troubling events" suggested it would be better for him to be prepared with that authority, just in case he decided not to show up for the hearing. Each of the Judiciary Committee's 10 Democrats voted to block Barr's confirmation, arguing that he had not given them sufficient assurances that he would allow special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russian election meddling to proceed unmolested. Whitaker's testimony comes one day after the Senate Judiciary Committee narrowly voted to advance William Barr's nomination to replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general along party lines. Some Democrats consider Mr. Whitaker's appointment to be illegitimate'. But Whitaker declined to say if he had discussed with Rosenstein the deputy attorney general's comments about invoking the 25th Amendment in an effort to trigger Trump's removal from office.

"But when career officials at the department recommended that you take steps to mitigate your apparent conflicts of interest, Mr. Whitaker - when they told you that your public criticism of the special counsel was bad for the department and bad for the administration of justice, you ignored them". Nadler added that he will likely ask Whitaker to return for another round of questioning at some point in the future, possibly under subpoena.

Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the committee's top Republican, criticized the hearing as "pure political theater" and a "dog and pony show".

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has also announced a sweeping investigation into Mr Trump's actions as president, and has hired former White House staff members to aid in the probe. Whitaker responded by saying that he would not come unless the committee dropped its subpoena threat, which he called an act of "political theatre".

After Whitaker's attempt at a diversion, Nadler reminded committee members that 'we didn't enforce the five-minute rule on Acting Attorney General Whitaker, ' whose opening statement ran more than 11 minutes.

"I have no reason to believe he's not honest, so yes I do believe he's honest", Whitaker said.

Since Democrats took control of the House last month, they have launched several congressional inquiries into Mr Trump's business dealings and his actions as president. Whitaker was an outspoken critic of the investigation before arriving at the Justice Department in 2017. He talks to Anna Maria Tremonti about his time working on Trump's campaign, and having the president's ear.

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