Whitaker Agrees to Testify at House Hearing Friday

Lauren Victoria Burke  FR132934 AP

Instead, Whitaker said he has not interfered with Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including the possibility that Trump's campaign colluded in that effort.

The Justice Department said Thursday that Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker will testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday as scheduled, ending a day's worth of uncertainty over whether he would appear.

Acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker is scheduled to appear Friday morning before the House Judiciary Committee - a high-stakes confrontation that was almost canceled a day earlier in a standoff with Democratic lawmakers.

Mr Whitaker - who leads the US Department of Justice - has refused to offer any details regarding the investigation or his opinions of it, and only stated he has been briefed on the special counsel's inquiry.

"The Acting Attorney General will testify that at no time did the White House ask for, or did the Acting Attorney General provide, any promises or commitments concerning the Special Counsel's investigation", Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd writes in the new letter obtained by CNN. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the chairman of the committee, of the committee's rules.

"Mr. Chairman, as I said earlier today in my opening remarks, I do not intend today to talk about my private conversations with the President of the United States, but to answer your question - I have not talked to the president of the United States about the special counsel's investigation", Whitaker told the committee. "I'm here voluntarily. I agreed to five-minute rounds".

The chamber erupted in laughter and murmurs after an exchange in which Whitaker tried to avoid answering Nadler by reminding him of the time limit on questioning.

Whitaker, much to the concern of Democrats, had made several public anti-Mueller comments, including writing op-eds and appearing on national news outlets to say the investigation was becoming a "witch hunt". Whitaker balked at the subpoena threat until Nadler took a more conciliatory stance.

"Congressman, I'm not a puppet to repeat what you're saying", Whitaker said.

"It's becoming a show", said the Republican congressman Doug Collins, of Georgia, who accused his Democratic colleagues of "character assassination".

The hearing was the first, and likely only, chance for newly empowered Democrats in the majority 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. The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted, along party lines, to advance Barr's nomination to the full Senate for confirmation.

In a statement on Thursday night, Kerri Kupec, a Whitaker spokeswoman, said that the acting attorney general had been assured that Nadler would not issue a subpoena "on or before February 8".

Cohen blasted Whitaker for the DOJ's involvement in helping represent Trump in those matters, saying the president is "making personal monies" off the lease of a government building.

"I'm thinking about maybe we just set up a popcorn machine in the back because that's what this is becoming", he said.

According to CNN, former Trump associate Roger Stone was "one of the last key campaign associates" to be investigated. Jackson Lee asked. She also asked Whitaker to confirm or deny media reports that he had one-on-one phone calls with the president or Kelly before Sessions's firing.

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