Published: Sat, February 09, 2019
Worldwide | By Stella Potter

House panel votes to authorize subpoena for Whitaker

House panel votes to authorize subpoena for Whitaker

Democrats are eager to press acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, during his first testimony to Congress, on his interactions with President Donald Trump and his oversight of the special counsel's Russian Federation investigation.

But the escalating dispute between Nadler and the Justice Department now raises questions about the likelihood of Whitaker appearing in what could be his only congressional testimony while leading the Justice Department, with William Barr on a path to be confirmed as the permanent attorney general by the Senate next week.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., closed the hearing, which saw many tense back-and-forth exchanges between Whitaker and Democrats on the panel, by telling Whitaker he owes the committee answers to follow-up questions.

Whitaker stood by his prior statement, saying, "I have answered your question as to what I believe about the special counsel".

"In your capacity as acting attorney general, have you ever been asked to approve any action or request to be taken by the special counsel?"

In his opening remarks, Whitaker said he was ready to answer questions -but not all of them.

Democrats became increasingly agitated at what they saw as Whitaker's efforts to run out the clock and control the hearing process.

"I am not kidding when I say I have interviewed terrorists who were more cooperative and respectful than Matt Whitaker was today", Figliuzzi told host Nicolle Wallace.

Whitaker's testimony, or lack thereof, "appears created to delay answering these questions as long as possible", Nadler told him during the hearing. He even quipped at Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) at one point that his "five minutes was up".

Rep. Eric Swalwell, California Democrat, pressed Mr. Whitaker on his views about Mr. Mueller.

"The fact Chairman Nadler would try to force the public disclosure of private conversations that he knows are protected by law proves he only wants to play politics", White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday.

"On November 14, 2018, as the incoming chairmen of the four House committees of jurisdiction, we sent a letter requesting that you produce eight categories of documents relating to your work on behalf of World Patent Marketing and your communications with Scott Cooper, the company's CEO and founder", the letter said.

Republicans on Friday backed Whitaker, with ranking member Doug Collins, R-Ga., calling on the committee to adjourn - although a vote to do so did not pass.

Yet Democrats yielded no new information about the status of the Mueller invesetigation as Whitaker repeatedly refused to discuss conversations with the president or answer questions that he thought might reveal details. The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted, along party lines, to advance Barr's nomination to the full Senate for confirmation.

"Mr. Chairman, I can see that your five minutes is up", Whitaker said, eliciting both laughs and gasps.

The questions from Democrats were aggressive, particularly on the question of Whitaker's oversight of the Mueller probe.

Cohen blasted Whitaker for the DOJ's involvement in helping represent Trump in those matters, saying the president is "making personal monies" off the lease of a government building. "The rules are that you are here, so I need to ask the question, and I need to have my time restored so that you can behave appropriately".

He talks to Anna Maria Tremonti about his time working on Trump's campaign, and having the president's ear.

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