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Rep Doug Collins (R-GA) questions Matt Whitaker

11 February, 2019, 13:07 | Author: Taylor George
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Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday in the first major hearing that showcases the new Democratic majority's oversight of the Justice Department and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation. "We have agreed to five-minute rounds", said Whitaker, seemingly surprised by the room's response. Nadler said he hoped not to have to use the subpoena, but "a series of troubling events over the past few months suggest that we should be prepared".

The hearing was hugely confrontational, as Democrat after Democrat grilled Whitaker over his ascension to acting attorney general, his conversations about the ongoing investigation and his past comments as a private citizen about Mueller and the probe.

The nomination now heads to the Senate floor, where Republicans have a 53-47 majority over Democrats and Democratic-caucusing independents.

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.

Republicans appear emboldened by Whitaker's backbone much like they are by President Trump's brazen politics, leading many to call for the acting AG to be made permanent.

Why is Mr Whitaker controversial?

"The committee can and should expect a direct answer to any question", said Nadler, who opted to send Whitaker his questions in advance and require that he tell the panel of any plans to invoke executive privilege at least 48 hours before the hearing.

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The setup for Whitaker's hearing was fairly typical: Committee members did the asking in five-minute increments. 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.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker appears before the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019, in Washington. "That deadline has come and gone. therefore I expect the acting attorney general to answer all of these questions without equivocation".

The committee's top Republican, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), blasted the entire hearing - which he said was supposed to be about oversight of the Justice Department, but was really about "character assassination" and an attempt to attack the president. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., about the conditions under which he would testify. (He said he had not.) Throughout, they scuffled over who was running the place.

Demings also asked if Whitaker agreed with Trump's statement at a rally a year ago, "Look what's being exposed at the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation".

Many of the Democrats have reservations about Barr that hinge on how he will treat Mueller's investigation.

House of Representatives judiciary committee hearing, adding that he has not taken any action in the probe or interfered "in any way".

Asked about Whitaker's congressional appearance, Trump called Whitaker an "outstanding person" and said he would do very well should he testify.

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