The hearings begin: Acting AG Whitaker clashes with House Judiciary Democrats

The hearings begin: Acting AG Whitaker clashes with House Judiciary Democrats

The hearings begin: Acting AG Whitaker clashes with House Judiciary Democrats

"In light of that commitment, Acting Attorney General Whitaker looks forward to voluntarily appearing at tomorrow's hearing and discussing the great work of the Department of Justice", said spokeswoman Kerri Kupec.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker insisted on Friday that he has not "interfered in any way" in the special counsel's Russian Federation investigation as he faced a contentious and partisan congressional hearing in his waning days on the job.

Whitaker and Nadler then clashed when the witness informed the chair his five-minute time limit to ask questions had run out.

He issued the warning as the committee voted Thursday to give Nadler, D-N.Y., the authority to subpoena Whitaker if he balks. "Political theater is not the goal of an oversight hearing, and I will not allow that to be the case", Whitaker wrote.

The two sides continued discussions throughout the evening and eventually, according to Justice Department officials, Nadler agreed that no subpoena would be issued Thursday or Friday. Despite previously telling reporters that Mueller's investigation was "close to being completed," Whitaker said he could not answer questions about ongoing investigations. "There has been no decision that has required me to take any action, and I have not interfered with the special counsel's investigation in any way".

This story "Nadler Clashes With Whitaker At Tense Hearing" was written by Josh Nathan-Kazis.

Nadler mentioned the battle over whether Whitaker would show up, suggesting that since Whitaker showed up there isn't a need to resort to a subpoena - "for now", he added after pausing ever so briefly.

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On social media, critics expressed shock at Whitaker's conduct, with some asserting that his rebuke of Nadler-like Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's angry testimony before a Senate committee in September-was likely for President Donald Trump's benefit.

"There are a whole list of questions we don't know the answers to about foreign interference in the election, foreign influence over this administration and garden variety corruption, interference with justice, obstruction of justice and abuse of power in many ways", he said.

Democrats have expressed concerns about Whitaker's previous partisan statements about the Mueller probe, his resumé and not being in the line of succession to succeed Jeff Sessions.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. If you've got skeletons in your closet, if you've had criminal fraud allegations about your past and your private sector involvement, probably not the best idea to raise your hand and say, 'I want in on a Trump administration job.' Because we've not seen the last of Whitaker.

Meanwhile, senior Justice Department officials told Fox News that Whitaker had been engaged in "robust" preparations for his appearance before the committee for weeks, including several mock hearings and briefings from all components within the Justice Department. He asked Whitaker to consult with the White House ahead of the hearing and tell the committee whether he would invoke privilege.

Top Republican on the committee Rep. Doug Collins asked to adjourn the hearing, a move that was rejected by a voice vote. "He's an outstanding person, a very very fine man", Trump said during a presidential memorandum signing in the Oval Office Thursday.

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