Trump slams ‘vicious’ Democrats for conduct at testy Whitaker hearing

Matthew Whitaker says he won’t testify unless subpoena threat is lifted

Committee members are allotted five minutes to ask questions of Whitaker, or any other witness testifying, but those five minutes are monitored by the Chair and can be fluid.

Whitaker said he had not spoken with President Donald Trump about the matter in his tenure as acting Attorney General.

Moscow has rejected U.S. intelligence findings that the Kremlin meddled in the 2016 presidential campaign, and Mr Trump has repeatedly denied any campaign collusion with Russian Federation.

Whitaker's time as acting attorney general will likely be coming to an end soon.

They also sought documents about the department's recent decision regarding online gambling, citing campaign donations from casino executives to Whitaker's campaign years after he ended an unsuccessful US Senate bid.

Whitaker stunned onlookers when he told House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., that his time slot had expired as Nadler asked Whitaker if he'd been "asked to approve any requests or action" for the special counsel.

Whitaker is directly overseeing the Mueller-led investigation, which has focused on possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow during the 2016 US presidential elections and whether the president obstructed justice, among other things. House Democrats also berated Whitaker on the administration's immigration policy and about family separations at the border. "We have followed the special counsel's regulations to a T".

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In his opening remarks, Whitaker said he was ready to answer questions -but not all of them.

Whitaker infuriated Democrats by not giving "yes" or "no" answers, referring them to other departments such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and at times challenging their questions. Collins said Friday the Democrats' move was part of a "character assassination".

In a letter, the heads of the House Oversight and Reform, Energy and Commerce, Judiciary and Intelligence committees said new records showed Whitaker did not return money to consumers who had complained about the company's practices. Jeffries asked "how the heck" he became acting attorney general. President Trump's pick for the position, William Barr, is expected to be confirmed next week.

The hearing was hugely confrontational, as Democrat after Democrat grilled Whitaker over his ascension to acting attorney general, his conversations about the ongoing investigation and his past comments as a private citizen about Mueller and the probe.

In January, Nadler threatened to issue a subpoena to Whitaker for his testimony if he did not agree to appear, saying that Whitaker was backtracking on a previous promise to testify in the first month of the new Congress.

Whether or not he would appear before the committee to answer questions about his dealings with the Mueller investigation was unknown until Thursday evening, when Whitaker finally agreed.

"In light of that commitment", department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement, Whitaker looked forward to going to Capitol Hill and discussing "the great work" carried out by the department.

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