Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker Infuriates House Dems at Hearing

Matthew Whitaker says he won’t testify unless subpoena threat is lifted

He didn't answer many questions.

The majority of Friday's questioning surrounded Whitaker's oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.

Congresswoman Val Demings (D- FL) directly told Acting AG Matthew Whitaker during today's hearing, "I believe that you have worked to make our criminal justice system--to make a mockery out of it".

Friday's hearing nearly didn't happen after Whitaker said Thursday he would not attend if the Democrat-led committee forced him to do so. Whitaker added that he will urge Mueller to "summarize his findings" in a simple report issued to Congress, which could eventually be made public. He is the person "ultimately in charge of the investigation", yet insisted he has not interfered in any way with it.

But after Collins raised the claim that CNN had been tipped off of the arrest by federal authorities, Whitaker said he did not "know of any other special counsel's office notice or DOJ notice to media outlets of Mr".

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He said his comment at an unrelated news conference last week that the Mueller investigation was close to wrapping up - a remark that generated significant attention and speculation - reflected only "my position as acting attorney general".

"Mr. Attorney General, we're not joking here, and your humor is not acceptable", the congresswoman responded. Nadler asked Whitaker if he had discussed the ongoing investigation with Trump.

In January, Nadler threatened to issue a subpoena to Whitaker for his testimony if he did not agree to appear, saying that Whitaker was backtracking on a previous promise to testify in the first month of the new Congress.

Demings repeatedly asked if Whitaker ever discussed with Trump the Southern District of New York's case against former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty previous year to eight counts of campaign finance and tax violations, including making payments to porn star Stormy Daniels at what he said was the direction of Trump himself.

Hours before the hearing on Friday, Nadler and Democratic heads of several other House panels renewed a call for Whitaker to produce documents regarding his prior work with the company World Patent Marketing.

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"When career officials at the department recommended that you take steps to mitigate your apparent conflicts of interest, . you ignored them", Nadler said.

"Without the threat of a subpoena, I believe it may be hard to hold Mr. Whitaker to this standard", Nadler said.

Whitaker took over from Attorney General Jeff Sessions on November 7, the day after the midterm election, when Trump successfully sought the resignation of his top law enforcement official. Whitaker was an outspoken critic of the investigation before arriving at the Justice Department in 2017. "It is very unusual for a witness to mention the time limit, and even more so for a witness to accuse the chairman of a panel of having gone over his time limit".

Democrats said they would inquire about Whitaker's past business dealings, too. 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".

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