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Acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker testifies before House Judiciary Committee

11 February 2019

Whitaker laid the groundwork for a likely tussle with Democrats by saying in his opening statement that while he would address their questions, he would not reveal details of his communications with Trump.

"I have not interfered in any way with the special counsel investigation", Whitaker told the committee.

Numerous questions centered on Whitaker's media appearances before joining the Justice Department in which he railed against special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

The Texas Democrat was trying to ask Whitaker if he had a confirmation hearing and if it has been more than ten years since he has testified before Congress.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep.

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Democrats suspect Whitaker's appointment as the top judicial official was aimed at suppressing investigations of Trump, who has repeatedly called the Mueller probe a "witch-hunt". He is the person "ultimately in charge of the investigation", yet insisted he has not interfered in any way with it.

"I'm not kidding when I say I have interviewed terrorists who are more cooperative and respectful than Matt Whitaker was today", Figliuzzi began, provoking laughter from MSNBC host Nicole Wallace.

Whitaker would only say as acting attorney general he had to "set the tone for the entire department".

"Mr. Attorney General, we are not joking here and your humor is not acceptable".

So far, the hearing has not shed much light on the status of the Mueller investigation - and it may not. Collins said Friday the Democrats' move was part of a "character assassination".

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Later, Collins questioned Whitaker about the indictment of Trump's long-time friend Roger Stone, including how CNN had a reporter in front of Stone's house when he was arrested.

"Before we adjourn, I want to note for the record, Mr. Whitaker, you owe us responses on a number of issues raised here today", said Nadler, who then rattled off several of the questions.

"Rather than conducting appropriate oversight into the department's programs and activities, the committee evidently seeks to ask questions about confidential presidential communications that no attorney general could ever be expected to disclose under the circumstances", Boyd wrote.

Since Whitaker was tapped to replace Jeff Sessions in November as acting attorney general, he has been under fire from Democrats for his public comments criticizing the special counsel's investigation. Whitaker was an outspoken critic of the investigation before arriving at the Justice Department in 2017. Nadler confirmed that the congressman "controls the time". Nadler reminded Whitaker that the committee had submitted questions relating to the special counsel investigation and was waiting on answers.

Democrats also inquired about Whitaker's past business dealings.

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Acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker testifies before House Judiciary Committee