Acting AG Whitaker tells House panel he hasn't interfered with Mueller probe

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

House panel votes to authorize subpoena for Whitaker

Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, questioned acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker about the baseless claim that CNN might have been tipped off to the arrest of Roger Stone, a longtime associate and informal adviser to President Donald Trump.

The Justice Department told the House Judiciary Committee Thursday afternoon that acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker will not appear at Friday's closely-watched oversight hearing unless he receives a written assurance by 6 p.m. ET Thursday that he will not be served with the subpoena the committee pre-emptively authorized to use if he avoids questions. "The first signal was when he was trying to tell the chairman he only had five minutes to ask a question". Whitaker responded. "Congresswoman, as I've mentioned several times, I am not talking about the conversations that I've had with the president or the rest of his senior staff".

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

Whitaker eventually answered, "We have followed the special counsel's regulations to a T. There has been no event, no decision that has required me to take any action".

"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.

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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 the Republican president.

Democrats have said they want to talk to Whitaker because he is a close ally of Trump who has criticized Mueller's Russian Federation investigation, which he oversees. "You asked the Acting Attorney General to come testify". The committee on Thursday authorized a subpoena if Whitaker refused to answer questions.

THREAD: Why is Whitaker refusing to testify unless the House agrees not to subpoena him?

'I want to be very specific about this, Mr. Chairman because I think it's going to allay a lot of fears that have existed among this committee, among the legislative branch largely, and maybe among some American people, ' Whitaker said.

Republicans, meanwhile, dismissed the hearing with the lame-duck attorney general as a political stunt and even moved to end it before it began.

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Whitaker repeatedly declined to answer questions about when and how many times he was briefed on Mueller's probe, prompting committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler to threaten to call him back for a deposition.

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. "But DOJ will argue that some of those conversations were protected by executive privilege".

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

However, Boyd added, Whitaker can not divulge details of his confidential discussions with Trump because certain communications are "vital to a president's ability to discharge the responsibilities of his office". Whitaker was an outspoken critic of the investigation before arriving at the Justice Department in 2017.

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