House Democrats tussle with acting AG Whitaker over testimony date




FILE PHOTO: Acting Attorney General Whitaker departs with U.S. President Trump travel to Kansas City, Missouri from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland
FILE PHOTO: Acting Attorney General Whitaker departs with U.S. President Trump travel to Kansas City, Missouri from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland  

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are locked in a dispute with Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker over scheduling a date for him to testify to lawmakers amid concerns about his appointment by President Donald Trump.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said after Democrats won the House majority in November's elections that Whitaker would be his first witness.

Some Democrats are concerned that Whitaker's appointment to replace ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions violated the U.S. Constitution and represented an effort to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and possible coordination with Trump campaign members. Trump denies campaign collusion with Moscow.

According to Nadler, Whitaker agreed in November that he would appear for a hearing in January. But Nadler said on Wednesday that the Department of Justice was now trying to cite the partial government shutdown as a reason to delay Whitaker's testimony until Feb. 12 or Feb. 13, telling the committee he would need "at least two weeks removed from a partial government shutdown" before he could appear.

"I cannot accept your proposal," Nadler wrote in a letter to Whitaker.

"We are willing to work with you to identify a mutually identifiable date for your testimony, but we will not allow that date to slip past January 29, 2019 - the day of the President's scheduled address to Congress, when we know you will be in Washington."

A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Nadler's letter.

For the House Judiciary Committee, time could be of the essence.

It is possible that by mid-February, Trump's nominee for Attorney General, William Barr, could be a confirmed by the U.S. Senate, making Whitaker's testimony less pressing.

Barr's confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled for Jan. 15 and 16.

Whitaker's appointment on Nov. 7 as acting attorney general is now the subject of multiple lawsuits. He is also under scrutiny for his decision not to recuse himself from overseeing Mueller's probe into Russian meddling, disregarding advice from ethics officials who found his participation could arguably create the appearance of a conflict.

Whitaker has expressed skepticism about the Mueller investigation, which is overseen by another official, Rod Rosenstein, who is preparing to leave his job soon after a new attorney general takes office.

"The public is entitled to know why you chose to disregard the advice of career ethics officials at the Department with respect to your oversight of the Special Counsel," Nadler's letter said.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; editing by Grant McCool)

COMMENTS

More Related News

Trump and GOP Allies Want Investigation of Mueller Probe's Roots
Trump and GOP Allies Want Investigation of Mueller Probe's Roots

Graham said at a news conference that Attorney General William Barr should appoint a new special counsel to examine why the U.S. government, under Barack Obama, decided to open an investigation into Russian election interference in 2016, and whether it was an excuse to spy on Trump's campaign. "Was it a ruse to get into the Trump campaign?" Graham said at the news conference.

Russia savors Mueller
Russia savors Mueller's report but expects tensions to stay

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia savored an "I told you so" moment Monday after special counsel Robert Mueller found no collusion between President Donald Trump's campaign and Moscow. Government officials also dismissed the extensive evidence uncovered by Mueller of Russian cyber-meddling in the 2016

Some Americans cheer Mueller conclusion, others disappointed
Some Americans cheer Mueller conclusion, others disappointed

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The first glimpse into the special counsel's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election did little to mend a gaping American political divide.

Mueller report: Read AG William Barr's summary of the Russia investigation
Mueller report: Read AG William Barr's summary of the Russia investigation

Congress got its first look at what special counsel Robert Mueller found after years investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and any possible collusion with President Donald Trump's campaign.

Trump claims 'total exoneration' from Mueller summary despite lack of answers on obstruction
Trump claims 'total exoneration' from Mueller summary despite lack of answers on obstruction

President Donald Trump claimed "complete and total exoneration" despite outstanding questions on obstruction.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.