Whitaker: I won't testify unless Dems drop subpoena threat

Hugh Fox
February 9, 2019

The Justice Department said Thursday that Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker will testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday as scheduled, ending a day's worth of uncertainty over whether he would appear.

"I have not interfered in any way with the special counsel's investigation", Whitaker said, as he claimed that under his watch the special counsel regulations had been followed "to a T".

"The Acting Attorney General will testify that at no time did the White House ask for, or did the Acting Attorney General provide, any promises or commitments concerning the Special Counsel's investigation", Boyd wrote.

Whitaker then said he would not answer questions based on representatives' "speculation".

House Judiciary Committee member Val Butler questions Matthew Whitaker.

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During the hearing, Mr Whitaker told the committee: "While I have specifically been saying that I'm not going to comment about my conversations with the president or his senior staff I have also been very clear that the president has not instructed me to do anything". "Without the threat of a subpoena, I believe it may be hard to hold Mr. Whitaker to this standard". The letter declared Whitaker wouldn't appear before the panel, unless members withdrew a subpoena, compelling his testimony. Nadler reminded Whitaker that the committee had submitted questions relating to the special counsel investigation and was waiting on answers.

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

But Whitaker then warned he would not show up unless lawmakers dropped the threat.

Collins said that the Justice Department's response to the subpoena vote showed that Democrats "overplayed their hand".

Though clearly exasperated - he drew gasps and chuckles when he told the committee chairman that his five-minute time limit for questions was up - Whitaker nonetheless sought to assuage Democratic concerns by insisting he had never discussed the Mueller probe with Trump or other White House officials, and that there'd been no change in its "overall management". William Barr, Trump's nominee to be his permanent Attorney General, is on track to be confirmed by the full Senate next week.

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

Democrats approved the subpoena over the objection of Republicans, who accused Nadler of authorizing a pre-emptive subpoena as "political theater" with questions created to embarrass the acting attorney general. "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".

The blogger said the Democrats on the committee "are trying to redirect nearly every topic back to the Russian Federation investigation, and Whitaker has repeatedly said that he wouldn't answer questions about his private conversations with the president".

According to CNN, former Trump associate Roger Stone was "one of the last key campaign associates" to be investigated.

The dispute over Whitaker comes as Democrats leading other House panels also stepped up investigations of Trump and those around him, despite the president's warning in his State of the Union address on Tuesday that the nation's "economic miracle" could be stopped by "ridiculous partisan investigations".

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