Acting AG Whitaker tells House panel he hasn't interfered with Mueller probe

Whitaker Says He Will Not Appear Before House Panel Unless He Gets Guarantee He Won’t Face Subpoena

House panel votes to authorize subpoena for Whitaker

Lawmakers plan to press Whitaker on his controversial appointment by President Trump and his oversight of the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker fired back when Democratic California Rep. Eric Swalwell tried to corner him during Friday's House Judiciary Committee hearing.

After previously refusing to appear before the House Judiciary Committee unless it withdrew the subpoena threat, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker agreed to testify before the committee on Friday.

Mr 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 United States elections was a problem, so too was voter fraud - a key issue for Republicans, but one that Democrats say is overstated. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., about the conditions under which he would testify.

Whitaker's hearing is probably going to be a contentious affair.

"Your failure to respond fully to our questions here today in no way limits the ability of this Committee to get the answers in the long run - even if you are a private citizen when we finally learn the truth", Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler reminded Whitaker in his opening statement.

"Similarly, Nadler prepared to subpoena Whitaker in case Whitaker refused to answer any of the questions", Mariotti continued.

"There has been no event. that has required me to take any action, and I have not interfered in any way" with Mueller's probe, he added.

Nadler also told Whitaker that he would "view with considerable skepticism any effort to decline to answer on the basis that the inquiry is related to an ongoing criminal investigation".

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"While DOJ claims that Whitaker made no promises to Trump about undermining the Mueller investigation, there were published reports that Trump asked Whitaker to control the prosecutors in the Southern District of NY", he explained.

Whitaker's behavior before the committee, said former Assistant FBI Director Frank Figliuzzi on MSNBC's "Deadline: White House", was one of the most appalling things he'd ever seen.

"We're all trying to figure out: who are you, where did you come from and how the heck did you become the head of the Department of Justice", said congressman Hakeem Jeffries.

Republican Doug Collins assailed the goal for the hearing and unsuccessfully called for it to be adjourned.

Trump's nominee for attorney general, William Barr, is expected to face a Senate confirmation vote next week.

The committee's ranking member, Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., said numerous times that Democrats were asking questions outside the hearing's scope, but Nadler overruled him.

Nadler then said his time was expired and recognized Collins to begin his questioning. But it does mean that a congressional witness's claim of executive privilege is hardly "game over" when it comes to having to answer touchy questions.

Whitaker: "Mr. Chairman, your five-minutes are up".

Differences over a barrier were the crux of a dispute between Democrats and Trump that led to the recent partial government shutdown - and the government could shut down again unless negotiators can make progress on a deal to fund the Department of Homeland Security. Jackson Lee asked. She also asked Whitaker to confirm or deny media reports that he had one-on-one phone calls with the president or Kelly before Sessions's firing.

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