Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker Infuriates House Dems at Hearing

Matthew Whitaker

"Stone's either indictments or arrest before it was made - that information was available to the public", Whitaker said. He added that he has not denied any funds to the special counsel's investigation.

The stalemate ended Thursday evening after the committee chairman, Nadler of NY, said the committee would not issue a subpoena if Whitaker appeared voluntarily.

Nadler went on to repeat his question, and Whitaker ultimately responded: "I have not interfered in any way with the special counsel's investigation". "I'm here voluntarily. We have agreed to five-minute rounds". Nadler confirmed that the congressman "controls the time".

Just after the Senate panel voted on Barr, Whitaker fired off the letter letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler.

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

The remark drew gasps in the hearing room, where committee chairmen hold vast power, including over who asks the questions and for how long.

On November 7, President Donald Trump announced the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Whitaker had threatened not to show up to the hearing after Democrats approved a subpoena if he didn't answer all their questions, but the committee chairman dropped the threat Thursday night.

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For Democrats, it was their first and likely only chance to grill an attorney general they perceive as a Trump loyalist and whose appointment they suspect was aimed at suppressing investigations of the Republican president.

Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, asked Whitaker to explain what was in the "scoping memo" that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote about the Mueller investigation in August 2017. 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.

"You have challenged my character", Whitaker began to say after Raskin repeatedly asked for the name of the charity the acting attorney general had previously run. Collins exclaimed. "This hearing is not about what the good men and women of the Department of Justice are doing".

They also sought documents about the department's recent decision regarding online gambling, citing campaign donations from casino executives to Whitaker's campaign years after he ended an unsuccessful US Senate bid.

Whitaker said then he might not attend, prompting Nadler to backtrack. Trading Whitaker in for him will be one of the Trump presidency's rare blessings.

Differences over a barrier were the crux of a dispute between Democrats and Trump that led to the recent partial government shutdown - and the government could shut down again unless negotiators can make progress on a deal to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

Moscow has rejected USA intelligence findings that the Kremlin meddled in the 2016 presidential campaign, and Mr Trump has repeatedly denied any campaign collusion with Russian Federation.

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