Dem Judiciary Rep. Jayapal: I Got the Sense Whitaker 'Wasn't Truthful'

09 February, 2019, 05:58 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • FILE – Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker

After Nadler repeated the question a few times to clarify for Whitaker, the acting attorney general said that the special counsel has been dealt with according to law and added, "There has been no event and no decision that has required me to take any action and I have not interfered in any way with the special counsel's investigation".

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) aired some frustrations during oversight hearing Friday afternoon, grilling acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker over his relationship with the Special Counsel.

Nadler called the hearing to provide oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice, which Whitaker has overseen since former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was sacked in November.

Whitaker has been supervising special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation after rejecting the advice of career ethics officials to step aside out of an abundance of caution.

"I consulted with career ethics officials, I consulted my senior staff, I consulted with the office of legal counsel - it was my decision to make, I decided not to recuse", he explained. Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the committee's top Republican, called it a "dog and pony show" and criticized Democrats for releasing derogatory information about Whitaker's business dealings hours before the hearing.

He also noted that Whitaker would probably be out of the job soon.

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

Whitaker's testimony, or lack thereof, "appears created to delay answering these questions as long as possible", Nadler told him during the hearing.

Republicans slammed Nadler for pre-emptively planning a subpoena for a witness who had voluntarily agreed to testify, saying it was setting a troubling precedent.

As Whitaker began to answer, Jeffries interjected that he was making a "statement, not asking a question".

(AP) Mr Whitaker, even while expressing exasperation at the questioning by Democrats, nonetheless sought to assuage their concerns by saying he had never discussed with Mr Trump or other White House officials special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

Jordan later asked if there are any other memos the American public can expect, to which Whitaker could not say.

"I am aware of that, and it was deeply concerning to me as to how CNN found out about that", Whitaker said.

The hearing room erupted in gasps when Whitaker pushed back strongly against a question from Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat, about whether he had ever been asked to approve any action requested by Mueller.

Though he denied discussing with White House while he was private citizen his views on the Mueller probe - or using intermediaries to pass along that message - he refused to go into detail about any discussions he may have had with the President or his inner circle once he became acting attorney general. William Barr, Trump's nominee to be his permanent Attorney General, is on track to be confirmed by the full Senate next week.

Late Thursday, there was considerable doubt about Whitaker's appearance.

Nadler told CNN Democrats will not be intimidated by Trump.

Collins, however, believes the fiasco is simply House Democrats' way of holding their own confirmation hearing for Whitaker and told them they should have run for Senate instead if that's what they're interested in doing.



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