Whitaker to Nadler: 'Your 5 minutes are up'

Chip Somodevilla  Getty Images North America

Chip Somodevilla Getty Images North America

In his prepared opening statement, Whitaker said he meant to protect executive privilege involving his "deliberations or conversations" with the President, citing "long-standing executive branch policy".

Whitaker also reminded the committee that attorney general nominee William Barr would likely take over his job as attorney general in a week, and scolded lawmakers for not asking him about the Justice Department's work on violent crime, the opioid crisis, religious liberty, and free speech on college campuses.

Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-Ga.) interjected to argue that Whitaker be allowed to answer how he feels best appropriate.

"We have followed the special counsel's regulations to a T, " Whitaker told the House Judiciary Committee.

"Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up", Whitaker said. He was clearly contemptuous of Congress, didn't believe he should be participating in an oversight hearing.

The remark drew gasps in the hearing room, where committee chairmen hold vast power, including over who asks the questions and for how long.

"And we intend to bring him back in a deposition before the committee so we can get those answers".

The hearing came a day after the chairman, Democratic Rep. In the end, Nadler backed down and Whitaker agreed to appear.

The Russia investigation into Trump campaign ties and possible obstruction of justice has been highly politicised since Mr Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey in May 2017.

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Whitaker has been supervising special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation after rejecting the advice of career ethics officials to step aside out of an abundance of caution. When Jackson Lee asked Nadler for her time to be restored, Whitaker responded as if the question had been directed towards him.

He said he had "consulted with a lot of people" about the options, but it was ultimately his choice. Nadler asked Whitaker if he and Trump had discussed the ongoing probe.

The committee, he said, still needed answers from Whitaker on several fronts, including his communication with the President after his briefings on Mueller's probe and the exact dates of those briefings.

Whitaker testified he had never spoken with members of Trump's inner circle about his views on the probe as a private citizen before he joined the Justice Department.

Matthew Whitaker, acting USA attorney general, said Friday that he has not interfered with the ongoing Russian Federation investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The interim boss of the Justice Department looked as though he might appear after trading salvos with the House panel's Democratic chairman, Rep.

Differences over a barrier were the crux of a dispute between Democrats and Trump that led to the recent partial government shutdown - and the government could shut down again unless negotiators can make progress on a deal to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

He also confirmed he has been briefed on the wide-ranging inquiry but refused to talk in details, only insisting that he has not talked to President Donald Trump or senior White House officials about it.

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