Published: Sat, February 09, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Nadler Says He Needs More Answers From Whitaker And May Issue Subpoena

Nadler Says He Needs More Answers From Whitaker And May Issue Subpoena

"I have not talked to the president of the United States about the special counsel investigation", Mr Whitaker told the House Judiciary Committee. Whitaker responded by saying that he would not come unless the committee dropped its subpoena threat. "I'm here voluntarily. We have agreed to five-minute rounds". "Answer the question, please". "The Department of Justice must be such a place".

Whitaker: "Mr. Chairman, your five-minutes are up".

Jackson Lee went on to press Whitaker on if he had discussed Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation with President Trump or members of his administration.

On Thursday evening, Nadler said no subpoena would be issued if Whitaker appeared before the committee Friday prepared to answer questions. There has been no event, no decision that's required me to take any action, and I have not interfered in any way with the special counsel's investigation'.

The hearing will be the committee's first major oversight hearing looking at the Justice Department of this Congress. Whitaker told reporters last week that Mueller's probe was "close to being completed", the first official sign that the investigation may be nearing an end.

"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", Jackson Lee continued. Keep in mind, Whitaker was willing to appear without the subpoena.

The Justice Department told the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday afternoon that acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker would not appear at Friday's closely-watched oversight hearing unless he receives a written assurance he won't be served with a subpoena. Nadler sent a letter to Whitaker last month with the questions he meant to ask, requesting Whitaker to say then and there if he meant to invoke executive privilege.

Congressman Doug Collins, the top Republican on the committee, accused Democrats of staging political drama.

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"Bring your popcorn", Collins said, adding maybe they just "set up a popcorn machine" in the back.

Collins attempted to derail the hearing completely with a motion to adjourn, before Whitaker had even been sworn in.

Justice Department ethics officials recommended Whitaker recuse himself from overseeing the Russian Federation investigation, a step he chose not to take.

"You decided that your private interest in overseeing this particular investigation - and perhaps others from which you should have been recused - was more important than the integrity of the department", said Nadler, of NY.

"I had no conflict of interest", he insisted.

"If he feels that a yes or a no is appropriate, he'll answer in a yes or a no; if he does not feel it's appropriate, he should be able to answer in the appropriate way, as many other Democrats have done before this committee before", Collins said. "I have no reason to believe he is not honest".

Raskin delved into Whitaker's activities prior to being appointed to his current temporary position by President Trump, who fired former Attorney General Jeff Sessions after the 2018 midterms.

Trump's decision to name Whitaker acting attorney general sparked controversy given that he now directly oversees Mueller's probe, which he has publicly criticized in the past.

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