Whitaker: I Have Not Interfered with Mueller Investigation

Lauren Victoria Burke  FR132934 AP

Shortly after Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was sworn in to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, Democratic Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler asked him if he had ever approved any request from Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

"Neither are you, Mr. Swalwell, and if you asked questions that are actually part of this instead of running for president we could get this done", Collins responded. Republicans made clear they viewed the hearing as pointless political grandstanding, especially since Whitaker may have less than a week left as the country's chief law enforcement officer.

"There has been no event, no decision that has required me to take any action, and I have not interfered in any way with the special counsel's investigation", Whitaker told Nadler.

He told lawmakers that there has been no change since his arrival in the job in the "overall management" of Mueller's investigation. "At no time has the White House asked for, nor have I provided, any promises or commitments concerning the special counsel's investigation or any other investigation".

But there were several questions he did not answer.

"Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes are up", Whitaker said to the committee's Democratic leader, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of NY.

The committee's top Republican, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), blasted the entire hearing - which he said was supposed to be about oversight of the Justice Department, but was really about "character assassination" and an attempt to attack the president.

Whitaker infuriated Democrats by not giving "yes" or "no" answers, referring them to other departments such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and at times challenging their questions. "Political theater is not the objective of an oversight hearing, and I will not allow that to be the case".

It was when Whitaker reminded Rep.




"I'm thinking about maybe we just set up a popcorn machine in the back because that's what this is becoming". "Given reports that Whitaker had engaged in extensive preparation, including mock questioning, I figured he would be armed with prepared responses to the questions he has been asked so far, which he should have anticipated in advance".

There was tension on Capitol Hill Friday, when acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker testified before the house Judiciary Committee.

"Are you overseeing a witch hunt?" Next week, the Senate will vote on the nomination of William Barr as attorney general.

The retort came after Nadler had chastised Whitaker for evading questions and said that he wanted Whitaker to appear before the committee "in the coming weeks" for a private deposition.

Whitaker fired back, "Congressman, I'm not a puppet to repeat what you're saying".

Democrats, who took over the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee after last year's midterm elections, accused Whitaker of being evasive in front of the panel and frequently clashed with him. Whitaker demanded to know the "basis" of the question. "At one point, he said [he did not speak with Trump about Mueller], but then he alluded, I think, to some conversations".

The Acting Attorney General's sworn testimony was the first time an official from the Trump Administration had come before the new Congress in a public setting.

After a round of follow-ups, Jeffries concluded by demanding Whitaker not interfere in Mueller's investigation. Whitaker was an outspoken critic of the investigation before arriving at the Justice Department in 2017.

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