Dem Rep. Cohen Fumes at Whitaker Over Mueller Probe

Dem Rep. Cohen Fumes at Whitaker Over Mueller Probe

Dem Rep. Cohen Fumes at Whitaker Over Mueller Probe

Democrats want to ask Mr. Whitaker about matters related to the Russian Federation investigation led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and whether Mr. Trump replaced Attorney General Jeff Sessions with Mr. Whitaker to interfere with that inquiry.

The hearing was thrown into disarray Thursday, when the committee voted along party lines to grant Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the authority to subpoena Whitaker if the acting attorney general failed to show or refused during his testimony to answer certain questions about his conversations with President Donald Trump.

Whitaker confirmed that he did not have a confirmation hearing before taking over for former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and had never testified before Congress. Trump ousted Sessions in November, right after the midterms, and Whitaker was appointed acting attorney general.

Mr Whitaker toggled between defending his role in the special counsel's investigation and echoing the president's talking points, conceding for instance that while foreign interference in U.S. elections was a problem, so too was voter fraud - a key issue for Republicans, but one that Democrats say is overstated.

"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", Boyd wrote. After Nadler's opening statement - in which he also criticized Whitaker's decision not recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation.

Democrats repeatedly accused Whitaker of running out the clock by giving them evasive or rambling answers in the hearing.

The hearing quickly turned contentious before Whitaker even had a chance to speak.

"I am not your puppet, to repeat what you are saying", Mr. Whitaker responded. "Given reports that Whitaker had engaged in extensive preparation, including mock questioning, I figured he would be armed with prepared responses to the questions he has been asked so far, which he should have anticipated in advance". "We have agreed to five-minute rounds", he added.

After Whitaker's statement, Collins said Nadler had overplayed his hand.

"I have been on the record about my respect for Bob Mueller", Whitaker said.

Midway through the hearing, as Nadler asked whether Whitaker had ever "been asked to approve any action or request to be taken by the special counsel", Whitaker noted that Nadler's allotted time had elapsed, according to CNN.

Whitaker is likely in his final days as the country's chief law enforcement officer because the Senate plans to vote soon on confirming William Barr, Trump's pick for attorney general. Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries later railed at Whitaker. "He's an outstanding person, a very very fine man", Trump said during a presidential memorandum signing in the Oval Office Thursday.

"He will come back, because we will use a subpoena if we have to", he said.

Democrats were often frustrated with his refusal to answer his questions, particularly after he discussed in an exchange with Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), the case against Roger Stone.

He talks to Anna Maria Tremonti about his time working on Trump's campaign, and having the president's ear. He also has longstanding ties to Sam Clovis, the Trump campaign's national co-chairman in the 2016 election who said Mueller had questioned him; in 2014, he chaired Clovis' campaign for Iowa State Treasurer.

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