Whitaker refuses to testify unless Dems drop subpoena threat
Whitaker refuses to testify unless Dems drop subpoena threat
Matt Whitaker Tries Bailing On Congressional Testimony After Democrats Threaten Subpoena
08 February, 2019, 11:28
"In light of that commitment, acting Attorney GeneralWhitaker looks forward to voluntarily appearing at tomorrow's hearing and discussing the great work of the Department of Justice", said spokeswoman Kerri Kupec.
"The Committee now has deviated from historic practice and protocol and taken the unnecessary and premature step of authorizing a subpoena to the me, the Acting Attorney General, even though I had agreed to voluntarily appear", Whitaker said in a statement.
Democrats have a list of questions to fire at him - which they provided him last month - including whether he was in the loop before Mr. Trump ousted former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, why Mr. Whitaker didn't recuse himself from overseeing the special counsel Russian Federation probe, and what Mr. Whitaker's interactions have been with the president since taking office. "Political theater is not the goal of an oversight hearing, and I will not allow that to be the case", he added.
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The hearing will be the committee's first major oversight hearing looking at the Justice Department of this Congress. Whitaker told reporters last week that Mueller's probe was "close to being completed", the first official sign that the investigation may be nearing an end. Later, Nadler tweeted that Whitaker had agreed to show up.
Meanwhile, Attorney General nominee William Barr just advanced to his full Senate nomination. Whitaker called the Democratic-led move an act of "political theater".
"Chairman Nadler and Democrats overplayed their hand", ranking member Doug Collins of Georgia said.
"In a quest to score political points against the president, they authorized a pre-emptive subpoena, treating a voluntary witness as hostile", Collins said.
Republicans proposed an amendment, offered by Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, to add Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein - a familiar target of the GOP given his past oversight of the Mueller probe - to Nadler's subpoena, which was rejected by Democrats. Nadler said that is "ridiculous" and administration officials must provide the committee with answers or a better excuse to withhold them.
In a letter to Nadler after the vote, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd laid out a lengthy legal argument for asserting such executive privilege, saying administration officials from both parties have declined to answer questions about conversations they have had with the president.
"The subpoena will only be issued if he refuses to answer questions on a speculative basis of privilege", Nadler said. He asked Whitaker to consult with the White House ahead of the hearing and tell the committee whether he would invoke privilege.
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