Associated Press/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
- Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker testified before the House Judiciary Committee Friday about his oversight of the Justice Department.
- His testimony came after some back and forth with the committee’s chairman, Rep. Jerry Nadler, about a potential subpoena threat.
- Nadler and other Democrats on the panel are primarily interested in learning more about the circumstances of Whitaker’s appointment; his oversight of the Justice Department; and his refusal to recuse himself from the ongoing Russia investigation.
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday for a highly anticipated testimony about his oversight of the Justice Department.
Whitaker’s testimony comes after some back and forth between him and Democrats on the panel, who earlier this week voted to give the committee’s chairman, New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, the authority to subpoena Whitaker’s testimony if he failed to show up Friday or refused to answer lawmakers’ questions.
Following the vote, Whitaker said in a statement Thursday that he would not testify unless Democrats dropped their subpoena threat. Whitaker ultimately agreed to appear before the committee after Nadler responded in a letter, saying there would "be no need" for a subpoena as long as Whitaker showed up Friday prepared to answer lawmakers’ questions.
Friday’s hearing comes as House Democrats flex their oversight and investigative powers after becoming the majority in the lower chamber following the November 2018 midterm elections.
Nadler and his fellow Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have signaled a particular interest in learning more about the circumstances of Whitaker’s appointment as acting attorney general; his oversight of the FBI’s Russia investigation; and his refusal to recuse himself from the investigation in light of inflammatory comments he made about the inquiry and the special counsel Robert Mueller.
The hearing began at 9:30 a.m. ET. Follow along for live updates.
Nadler’s opening statement skewers Whitaker’s refusal to comply with ethics advice and coziness with the White House
House Judiciary Committee Hearings/YouTube
Nadler pulled no punches in his opening statement at the hearing.
He specifically focused on Whitaker’s refusal to follow advice from career ethics officials at the Justice Department; his history of making public comments critical of the Russia investigation; his insistence that he remain in control of the Russia investigation; and his statement saying he would not appear before the panel unless Democrats pledged not to subpoena him.
In many ways, Nadler said, Whitaker’s conduct fell "well short of the mark."
"It is my intent that there be no surprises today," Nadler said. "We have laid all of the groundwork for this hearing out in the open. We have given you months to prepare. We have publicly documented every request we have made. We have provided our Republican colleagues with a meaningful opportunity to weigh in on the process. We have nothing to hide from you, or anyone else. We hope you have nothing to hide from us."
- Trump’s attorney general pick was just approved by a key committee, setting up a final confirmation vote in the Senate
- Trump says the expanded House Russia investigation is ‘presidential harassment,’ calls the Democrat in charge a ‘political hack’
- Trump said ‘you have to get rid of’ the Russia probe and parroted a Kremlin talking point in a wide-ranging interview
Source: Business Insider