Whitaker: I have 'not interfered' with Mueller investigation

Whitaker Says He Will Not Appear Before House Panel Unless He Gets Guarantee He Won’t Face Subpoena

Whitaker on Friday rebuffed a Democratic lawmaker's efforts to get him to publicly tell President Trump that special counsel Robert Mueller is honest and not conflicted.

House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) laid into Congressional Democrats during Friday's hearing for Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, calling the hearing "pointless" and a "character assassination".

The testimony comes as Whitaker is likely winding down his tenure leading the Justice Department with the nearly certain confirmation of Attorney General nominee William Barr in the coming weeks.

Steve Cohen grilled Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker Friday over the Mueller probe and the lease of Washington, D.C.'s "Old Post Office" building for the Trump International Hotel.

"I have not interfered in any way with the special counsel investigation", Whitaker told the committee. "And I have not interfered in any way with the special counsel's investigation".

Several Republicans on the committee pushed for former Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, to subpoena Rosenstein in the last Congress, though he ultimately did not appear.

Collins, of Georgia, called it a "dog and pony" show and criticized Democrats for disclosing derogatory information about Whitaker's business dealings hours before the hearing.

"Although I can not speak about my communications with the president, I do want to make clear that I am personally committed to the integrity of the Department of Justice", Whitaker wrote.

"We have followed the special counsel's regulations to a T", Mr Whitaker said.

Nadler also warned Whitaker that if he can't fully answer a specific question, "we are prepared to handle your concerns on a case-by-case basis, both during and after [the] hearing".

There was laughter and audible "Ohhhs" in the room as Nadler smiled and Whitaker attempted to justify his non-answer by saying, "I'm here voluntarily, we've agreed to five-minute rounds".

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Despite Whitaker's clear answer, Jackson Lee complained she wanted a yes or no answer, but Nadler indicated to her that the questions was answered, so she moved on.

Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) pressed Whitaker about Mueller's probe.

"It is our understanding that at least one briefing occurred between your decision not to recuse yourself on December 19 and six days later, Christmas Day", Nadler said. "The department's failure to do its due diligence to me is deeply troubling", he said.

In a separate letter sent to Nadler, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd demanded a response on the subpoena question.

"Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes are up, " Whitaker said to the committee's Democratic leader, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of NY. The Senate judiciary committee voted along party lines Thursday to advance Barr's nomination.

The questions from Democrats were aggressive, particularly on the question of Whitaker's oversight of the Mueller probe.

"We had the show yesterday", Collins said.

Democrats on the Ways and Means committee have taken the first step to obtain Mr Trump's tax returns, which he refused to publicly release during the 2016 campaign.

Asked whether Whitaker wouldn't testify due to a subpoena threat, Trump replied, "That I don't know".

Whitaker never directly answered Nadler about whether anyone had ever asked him to intervene with Mueller.

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