Saturday, 23 February, 2019

I have ‘not interfered’ with Mueller investigation, Whitaker says

Matthew Whitaker says he won’t testify unless subpoena threat is lifted Whitaker Confirmed to Appear Before Panel as Scheduled
Melinda Barton | 10 February, 2019, 10:43

Democrats spent much of the hearing grilling Whitaker on why he did not recuse himself from overseeing the special counsel investigation when he was appointed acting attorney general, what conversations he had with the president about the investigation, and whether his opposition to the special counsel before he took the job played a role in his appointment.

Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up, ' he said, prompting an uproar from the gallery and laughter from Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat.

"Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up, so..." The committee on Thursday authorized a subpoena if Whitaker refused to answer questions.

He told politicians that since he took over as acting attorney general in November 2018, there has been no change in the "overall management" of Special Counsel's Robert Mueller investigation.

The Daily Wire's Emily Zanotti noted, "CNN reports that Whitaker has been "fully briefed" on Mueller's investigation and that he anticipates a swift end to the probe". Jackson Lee was indignant.

A Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian intelligence has entered its second year, but Republican chairman Richard Burr said there is thus far nothing suggesting collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Thursday to recommend that the full Senate confirm Barr as attorney general, which could happen as soon as next week.

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

Debbie Lesko (R) described the contentious hearing between Democratic lawmakers and Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker "a theatrical show" Saturday on Fox & Friends. But Whitaker declined to say if he had discussed with Rosenstein the deputy attorney general's comments about invoking the 25th Amendment in an effort to trigger Trump's removal from office.

In response to recusal questions from Democrats, Mr Whitaker has repeated: "It was my decision to make".

Whitaker had publicly criticized the investigation before joining the Justice Department in 2017 but said on Friday he had not discussed it with Trump. He also signaled that he would give limited answers about the investigation itself. Nadler reminded Whitaker that the committee had submitted questions relating to the special counsel investigation and was waiting on answers.

"I am not your puppet, to repeat what you are saying", Mr. Whitaker responded.

"I trust that the Members of this Committee will respect the confidentiality that is necessary to the proper functioning of the Presidency - just as we respect the confidentiality necessary to the Legislative Branch", Whitaker said.

Ahead of the hearing, four Democratic House committee chairmen accused Whitaker of not repaying over $9,000 in funds to a now-shuttered, "scam" patent company he was involved with so that the money can be returned to victims, an issue that Democrats are likely to raise on Friday.

Democrats said they would inquire about Whitaker's past business dealings, too.

Mr Trump has denounced the investigations as "presidential harassment".