Whitaker won't answer 'witch hunt' question

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He was clearly contemptuous of Congress, didn't believe he should be participating in an oversight hearing.

Whitaker said he'd "re-established a positive relationship between the Department of Justice and the White House" since becoming acting attorney general, leading Demings to ask if he agreed with Trump before taking that position.

Democrats have said they want to speak to Whitaker, a close ally of President Donald Trump who has repeatedly blasted Mueller's inquiry, which the acting attorney general oversees. When Nadler gaveled the hearing into a five-minute recess, Whitaker said into an open mic: "Five minutes for lunch?"

"Answer the question please", Nadler replied. I'm asking you a question. If Matt Whitaker had been on trial for the crime of jay-walking or littering, if the Democrats had their way, he would be on death row by now.

Democrats who perceive Whitaker as a Trump loyalist were expected to ask him whether he has made any commitments to the president about Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation and whether he has shared with Trump any inside information.

Whitaker had publicly criticized the investigation before joining the Justice Department in 2017 but said on Friday he had not discussed it with Trump.

"Political theater is not the objective of an oversight hearing, and I will not allow that to be the case", Whitaker said.

"We had the show yesterday", Collins said. Whitaker added that he will urge Mueller to "summarize his findings" in a simple report issued to Congress, which could eventually be made public.

Just days before he will leave the job, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker spent hours Friday answering - and not answering - a flurry of questions from members of the House Judiciary Committee.

"If you appear before the committee tomorrow morning and if you are prepared to respond to questions from our members, then I assure you that there will be no need for the committee to issue a subpoena on or before February 8", Nadler wrote. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., about the conditions under which he would testify.

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"This subpoena is nothing short of political theater", said the ranking Republican, Rep. Douglas A. Collins (Ga.).

"Bring your popcorn", he said.

Later, Nadler agreed to drop the threat, paving the way for Whitaker's appearance before the panel.

After a long pause, Nadler continued, "It's a "yes or no" question".

"I had no conflict of interest", he insisted.

Democrats demanded he recuse himself, and have called for an investigation into his decision not to recuse despite the recommendation from DOJ ethics officials.

When pressed on whether he trusted Mueller, he told lawmakers he has respect for the former FBI Director.

"I have and will continue to manage this investigation in a manner that is consistent with the governing regulations", he said in his opening remarks. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) attempted to bypass Whitaker's approach by requesting that he answer with a simple "Yes" or "No".

"We are pleased to announce that Matthew G. Whitaker, Chief of Staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice, will become our new Acting Attorney General of the United States". Trump's nominee for a permanent attorney general, Republican William Barr (who served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s), could be confirmed by the full Senate as soon as next week.

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