HIGHLIGHTS: Whitaker testifies Mueller will finish his investigation (Part 2)

10 February, 2019, 10:42 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Chip Somodevilla  Getty Images North America

Asked whether he had ever been asked to approve any request or action by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, Whitaker refused to answer.

Whitaker and Nadler then clashed when the witness informed the chair his five-minute time limit to ask questions had run out.

Democrats on the Judiciary Committee grew frustrated with Whitaker's approach to answering their questions - or, in their view, failure to answer them - and Nadler threatened to haul Whitaker back in for a deposition under subpoena because he wouldn't answer their questions.

"I have not talked to the president of the United States about the special counsel investigation", Mr Whitaker told the House Judiciary Committee.

Democrats suspect Whitaker's appointment as the top judicial official was aimed at suppressing investigations of Trump, who has repeatedly called the Mueller probe a "witch-hunt". Whitaker was the former attorney of the southern district of Iowa and former chief of staff for then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Trump has repeatedly said there was no collusion between his campaign and Russian Federation and has called Mueller's investigation a witch hunt. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to recommend the confirmation of President Trump's permanent successor to Sessions: William Barr, who previously served as George H.W. Bush's attorney general in the early 1990s.

The committee's Democratic leadership and Mr Whitaker's team sparred on Thursday night over whether Mr Whitaker would even turn up for the hearing. Trading Whitaker in for him will be one of the Trump presidency's rare blessings.

"I am not here to be a puppet to repeat terms and words that you say", Mr. Whitaker shot back.

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"In light of that commitment", department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement, Whitaker looked forward to going to Capitol Hill and discussing "the great work" carried out by the department.

The Acting Attorney General also told the Chairman he will be invoking executive privilege if asked about any conversations with President Trump. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the chairman of the committee, of the committee's rules.

Ahead of the hearing, four Democratic House committee chairmen accused Whitaker of not repaying over $9,000 in funds to a now-shuttered, "scam" patent company he was involved with so that the money can be returned to victims, an issue that Democrats are likely to raise on Friday.

Over the past several weeks there have been a lot of questions circulating around whether or not Whitaker would voluntarily testify.

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".

The Russia investigation into Trump campaign ties and possible obstruction of justice has been highly politicised since Mr Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey in May 2017.

Democrats said they would inquire about Whitaker's past business dealings, too. He talks to Anna Maria Tremonti about his time working on Trump's campaign, and having the president's ear.



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