Published: Sun, February 10, 2019

HIGHLIGHTS: Whitaker testifies Mueller will finish his investigation (Part 2)

HIGHLIGHTS: Whitaker testifies Mueller will finish his investigation (Part 2)

Even the run-up to Friday's hearing read like satire, with Whitaker trying at the last moment to wriggle out of testifying by demanding that the committee pledge not to subpoena him, then rushing to the media arm of the Heritage Foundation to complain that "the reputational hits are drive-by half-truths". President Trump's decision to replace Sessions with Whitaker was always controversial, and not just because Sessions, who had recused himself from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe, was forced out.

"We now have had the curtain drop down, and Mr. Whitaker, I guess your confirmation hearing's here".

"I have been on the record about my respect for Bob Mueller", Whitaker said. "There has been no decision that has required me to take any action, and I have not interfered with the special counsel's investigation in any way".

Yet Democrats yielded no new information about the status of the Mueller invesetigation as Whitaker repeatedly refused to discuss conversations with the president or answer questions that he thought might reveal details.

The dispute emerged amid reports that Democrat and committee chairman Jerrold Nadler was planning to subpoena Mr Whitaker to testify about his interactions with President Donald Trump.

"Mr. Whitaker, you don't run this committee", Raskin said.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Thursday to recommend that the full Senate confirm Barr as attorney general, which could happen as soon as next week.

Republicans, who until recently led the committee, complained on Friday that the hearing was a "dog and pony" show meant to discredit the president.


Congressman Doug Collins, the top Republican on the committee, accused Democrats of staging political drama.

Republican Representative Debbie Lesko of Arizona called the entire hearing "nothing but character assassination and harassment of our witness".

Demings also asked if Whitaker agreed with Trump's statement at a rally past year, "Look what's being exposed at the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation".

Whitaker never directly answered Nadler about whether anyone had ever asked him to intervene with Mueller. Republicans made clear they viewed the hearing as pointless political grandstanding especially since Whitaker may have less than a week left as the country's chief law enforcement officer.

Whitaker: "Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up". "I decided not to recuse".

Whitaker had been chief of staff to Sessions, who was forced from the Cabinet last November as Trump seethed over Sessions' decision to step aside from overseeing the Russian Federation investigation. 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.

Democrats said they would inquire about Whitaker's past business dealings, too. Have you communicated anything you learned in that briefing about the investigation to President Trump? He talks to Anna Maria Tremonti about his time working on Trump's campaign, and having the president's ear.

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