Acting AG Whitaker tells House panel he hasn't interfered with Mueller probe

Blanche Robertson
February 10, 2019

The hearing came after a dispute over whether he could be forced to disclose his conversations with the president. There has been no event, no decision that's required me to take any action, and I have not interfered in any way with the special counsel's investigation'.

"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".

Nadler and three other House committee chairmen released documents that they said show Whitaker failed to return thousands of dollars that were supposed to be distributed to victims of a company's alleged fraud.

"Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up, so I am...", said Whitaker, as there were groans through the hearing room.

The Democrat-led House panel was holding the hearing over Whitaker's oversight of the probe, his contacts with White House related to it and the firing of Sessions. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to recommend the confirmation of President Trump's permanent successor to Sessions: William Barr, who previously served as George H.W. Bush's attorney general in the early 1990s.

Republican Doug Collins assailed the goal for the hearing and unsuccessfully called for it to be adjourned. Collins exclaimed. "This hearing is not about what the good men and women of the Department of Justice are doing".

"Do you agree with the president's characterization of the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation?" she asked.

In one case, he refused to answer Democratic congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee's questions with a yes or no, and made a flippant remark about whether the time she had lost on the clock had been restored before he answered her questions.

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Asked whether he has spoken with President Trump about the Southern District of New York's investigation into his former lawyer Michael Cohen, Whitaker wouldn't say.

He said he had "consulted with a lot of people" about the options, but it was ultimately his choice.

The committee, he said, still needed answers from Whitaker on several fronts, including his communication with the President after his briefings on Mueller's probe and the exact dates of those briefings. Whitaker was an outspoken critic of the investigation before arriving at the Justice Department in 2017.

Whitaker also sparred with Democratic California Rep. Eric Swalwell, who questioned him about his thoughts on special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep.

Nadler told CNN Democrats will not be intimidated by Trump.

Critics have said they anxious about a hand-picked advocate for the White House sitting at the pinnacle of the Justice Department as it continues an inquiry that could have major consequences for Trump or others in his inner circle.

Whitaker is the first top Trump administration official to testify before Congress since Democrats won control of the House in the November midterm elections.

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