Matt Whitaker to Eric Swalwell: 'I am not your puppet'


However, he said, "I have not spoken to the president about the special counsel's investigation". Some Democrats consider Mr. Whitaker's appointment to be illegitimate'.

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. Collins called the daylong hearing a "dog and pony show".

"Bring your popcorn", he said.

Whitaker had publicly criticized the investigation before joining the Justice Department in 2017 but said on Friday he had not discussed it with Trump.

At 9:30 a.m. ET, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. The committee on Thursday authorized a subpoena if Whitaker refused to answer questions.

Democrats pushed Whitaker on whether he was still critical of the special counsel investigation he is now in charge of.

Whitaker then was allowed time to explain how his ascension to be acting attorney general came about.

"But you wouldn't oversee a witch hunt, would you? The official report will go directly to the Department of Justice".

The acting attorney general said that Mueller was would finish the probe "when he wants to finish his investigation".

'We have followed the special counsel's regulations to a tee.

Whitaker said he can't talk about ongoing investigations, but that yes, he has been briefed on them.

He was also pushed to explain his decision not to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation.

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"Mr. Whitaker, you don't run this committee", Raskin said.

Republicans repeatedly tried to divert the discussion from the topic of the special counsel, instead trying to focus on other functions of the Justice Department. He then asked whether she was permitted to continue with her questioning despite going over her five-minute limit. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) attempted to bypass Whitaker's approach by requesting that he answer with a simple "Yes" or "No". Meanwhile, he could not have stated more emphatically that he meant to let the Mueller investigation run its course: "I believe it is vitally important that the special counsel be allowed to complete his investigation", he testified then.

Whitaker said he'd read the memo. But Nadler told reporters after the hearing that he was not happy with Whitaker's answers and said he intends to bring him back for an additional deposition.

Whitaker never directly answered Nadler about whether anyone had ever asked him to intervene with Mueller.

Democrats who perceive Whitaker as a Trump loyalist are also expected to ask about Whitaker's comment last week that he believed the investigation into potential ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign was almost done.

The House Judiciary Committee prepared the subpoena, at the same time the Senate Judiciary Committee was supposed to vote to send the nomination of William Barr to become Attorney General to the floor shortly after 10 am Thursday. The committee and Justice Department eventually agreed he would voluntarily appear on February 8.

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.

Trump's naming of Whitaker as acting attorney general caused controversy in part because it meant that the president's appointee oversees the probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into whether Moscow meddled in the election and colluded with Trump's campaign.

Democrats demanded he recuse himself, and have called for an investigation into his decision not to recuse despite the recommendation from DOJ ethics officials.

"Mr. Attorney General, we're not joking here and your humor is not acceptable", Jackson Lee told Whitaker. Republicans made clear they viewed the hearing as pointless political grandstanding, especially since Whitaker may have less than a week left as the country's chief law enforcement officer. "And it's painful for me for you to do that, and anybody, up to and including the president of the United States".

"The Democrats in Congress yesterday were vicious and totally showed their cards for everyone to see", Trump wrote on Twitter Saturday.