UPDATED 1:04 PM PT — Friday, February 8, 2019
There was tension on Capitol Hill Friday, when acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker testified before the house Judiciary Committee.
In his opening remarks, Whitaker said he was ready to answer questions –but not all of them.
“I will answer the committee’s questions as best I can, but I will continue the long-standing executive branch practice of not disclosing information that may be subject to executive privilege such as the contents of conversations with the president,” he stated.
The majority of Friday’s questioning surrounded Whitaker’s oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Under questioning from Democrat Chairman Jerry Nadler, Whitaker confirmed he hasn’t interfered with the probe or discussed it the White House.
“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.
There was tension on Capitol Hill Friday, when acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker testified before the house judiciary committee.
When asked why he didn’t recuse himself from the investigation, Whitaker said a senior Department of Justice official told him it was a “close call,” but ultimately the decision was his to make.
“I consulted with career ethics officials, I consulted my senior staff, I consulted with the office of legal counsel — it was my decision to make, I decided not to recuse,” he explained.
Whitaker had threatened not to show up to the hearing after Democrats approved a subpoena if he didn’t answer all their questions, but the committee chairman dropped the threat Thursday night. He called it an act of political theater and at one point seemingly tried to make his discontent clear.
Whitaker’s time as acting attorney general is likely coming to an end soon, with the Senate expected to vote to confirm President Trump’s attorney general nominee William Barr next week.