Whitaker to face grilling by Democrats in House committee

Del Quentin Wilber, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is scheduled to testify Friday before a congressional committee, where Democrats are expected to press him about his supervision of the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and other issues.

It will be the first high-profile hearing in the House since Democrats took control of the chamber last month, and they appear eager to flex their oversight muscles.

The House Judiciary Committee hearing comes a day after the chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), and Whitaker sparred over Nadler's threat to issue a subpoena to compel his appearance to answer questions.

In the end, Whitaker agreed to attend after Nadler promised not to subpoena him if he appeared. The lawmaker left open what might happen if the acting attorney general refused to answer specific questions.

Republicans have argued that the hearing is unnecessary because Whitaker is almost certainly on his way out.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to support William Barr, President Trump's pick for attorney general, and the Republican-led Senate is expected to confirm him in coming weeks.

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Whitaker took over from Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Nov. 7, the day after the midterm election, when Trump successfully sought the resignation of his top law enforcement official.

Trump soured on Sessions after the attorney general recused himself from the Russia investigation in early 2017, and the president frequently bashed the former senator on Twitter and in interviews.

Whitaker had served for a year as Sessions' chief of staff and built a rapport with Trump.

Before joining the department, Whitaker had publicly criticized special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation in columns and in TV interviews.


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