Nadler Threatens to Subpoena Whitaker After Contentious Hearing

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Jackson Lee had asked Whitaker whether he ever appeared before an oversight hearing or was confirmed in the Senate, and Nadler demanded he "answer the question as asked". Barbs were thrown; questions, dodged.

"I assume you know the difference", said Jeffries, launching into a series of follow-up questions regarding Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation, the indictments that were made and President Donald Trump's complaints that the investigation is a "witch hunt".

Whitaker testified following a lengthy fight with Nadler over the prospect that he would be subpoenaed for not answering questions. Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee got into a testy exchange with the acting attorney general about whether the Mueller investigation was a "witch hunt" - one of the President's signature insults.

Its likely too early to discern the implications of these revelations.

Under questioning from Rep. Andy Biggs, an Arizona Republican, Whitaker said that he believed Rosenstein was not serious when he discussed wearing a wire to secretly record Trump in order to sway members of his Cabinet and remove the President from office in spring 2017, in the days after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.

Whitaker's conduct of dodging questions and appearing to stall frustrated Democrats.

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". Within just minutes of the hearing though, it became very apparent.

Republicans dismissed the hearing with Whitaker as a political stunt and moved to end it before it began.

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Whitaker repeatedly declined to answer questions about when and how many times he was briefed on Mueller's probe, prompting committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler to threaten to call him back for a deposition.

Nadler cracked a smile, but he was unfazed. "But there were other questions he refused to answer". Whitaker's terse response was that Nadler has run out of time to ask the question.

"I trust that the members of this committee will respect the confidentiality that is necessary to the proper functioning of the presidency - just as we respect the confidentiality necessary to the legislative branch", Whitaker said.

"It's shocking how nervous and unsure of himself Whitaker appears to be", Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, wrote in an e-mail to TIME. When she asked the chairman if her time had been restored, Whitaker replied with a degree of snark, "I don't know whether your time's been restored or not".

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., tried to adjourn the hearing before it started, saying it was an attempt at assassinating Trump's character. They were voted down every time, vastly outnumbered by Democrats. On Thursday, Democrats on the committee marked up a subpoena for possible use to compel his cooperation. Nadler ultimately agreed with those stipulations.

The hearing concluded with Nadler calling Whitaker's testimony inconsistent "at best".

"If he feels that a yes or a no is appropriate, he'll answer in a yes or a no; if he does not feel it's appropriate, he should be able to answer in the appropriate way, as many other Democrats have done before this committee before", Collins said. From national media interviews to CNN op-eds, Whitaker repeatedly bashed the probe before assuming his role and said it was becoming a "witch hunt", the same terminology often used by Trump.