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Whitaker Confirmed to Appear before Panel as Scheduled

Whitaker Confirmed to Appear before Panel as Scheduled

WASHINGTON ― Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is trying to back out of his scheduled Friday testimony before the House Judiciary Committee after the committee voted to subpoena him if he tried to assert executive privilege.

Whitaker's appearance had been thrown into question after the panel approved a tentative subpoena to ensure that Whitaker appeared Friday and answered questions.

"I remain willing to appear to testify tomorrow, provided that the chairman assures me that the committee will not issue a subpoena today or tomorrow, and that the committee will engage in good faith negotiations before taking such a step down the road", Whitaker said in a statement. He asked Whitaker to consult with the White House ahead of the hearing and tell the committee whether he would invoke privilege, though Whitaker has not responded to Nadler's letter as of Thursday morning.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is testifying before Congress for the first time Friday, with Democrats eager to press him on his interactions with President Donald Trump and his oversight of the special counsel's Russian Federation investigation.

But the escalating dispute between Nadler and the Justice Department now raises questions about the likelihood of Whitaker appearing in what could be his only congressional testimony while leading the Justice Department, with William Barr on a path to be confirmed as the permanent attorney general by the Senate next week.

Nadler has criticized Whitaker for not recusing himself from the Mueller probe, as Sessions did due to his involvement with the Trump campaign in 2016, as Whitaker has made comments criticizing the investigation.

If the panel had questions about oversight of Mueller's probe, Republicans also argued, better to question Rosenstein, who had been monitoring it for far longer than Whitaker.

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The vote by the committee didn't issue a subpoena but allowed Nadler to do so if Whitaker was uncooperative.

But, while making clear he does not want to have to compel Whitaker's testimony, Nadler said "a series of troubling events" suggested he should be prepared, just in case he doesn't show up for his hearing.

Democrats are anxious that Whitaker, whose public comments before taking over the Justice Department suggested he was sympathetic to Trump and critical of the Mueller probe, may seek to evade questions he is asked during the proceedings. We have devoted considerable resources and numerous hours to my preparation, and I have looked forward to discussing the important work of the great men and women of the Department of Justice.

"The Acting Attorney General will testify that at no time did the White House ask for, or did the Acting Attorney General provide, any promises or commitments concerning the Special Counsel's investigation", Boyd wrote. They said it was unnecessary because Whitaker was already appearing voluntarily. Later, Nadler tweeted that Whitaker had agreed to show up.

"Number one, so you and I would be talking about it and others would be talking about it - the acting AG being under subpoena", he explained.

"Rather than conducting appropriate oversight into the department's programs and activities, the committee evidently seeks to ask questions about confidential presidential communications that no attorney general could ever be expected to disclose under the circumstances", Boyd wrote.


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