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

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Matthew Whitaker, acting USA attorney general, will testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday as scheduled after a showdown with congressional Democrats over the hearing. "We have agreed to five-minute rounds", he added. Collins said. "The key difference today is simply that this witness is part of the Trump Administration - and now we're setting a risky precedent".

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

Whitaker also said that he had not briefed any "senior White House officials" about the investigation, although he declined to provide more specifics. (The Senate is slated to vote on Barr next week).

He refused to answer detailed questions about how often he's been briefed, how much he's been involved in the Mueller probe and whether he and the president have discussed separate investigations by federal prosecutors in NY.

Nadler, giving off a laugh of disbelief, called for a break from the hearing.

"It's getting a little tiresome hearing you stall", the New York Democrat told Whitaker.

After Jeff Sessions was sacked last November, Whitaker was raised to the role apparently on the merits of his history of denouncing the special counsel investigation on cable TV, and promptly refused to recuse himself from that investigation despite a top Justice Department ethics official advising him to do so.

Republican Doug Collins assailed the goal for the hearing and unsuccessfully called for it to be adjourned.

"I'm proud of my passion, Mr. Whitaker", she tweeted.

Democrats, who took over the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee after last year's midterm elections, accused Whitaker of being evasive in front of the panel and frequently clashed with him.

Nadler, had threatened to do just that if committee members didn't get answers to questions they wanted; Democrats, who make up the panel's majority, voted to authorize a subpoena if necessary.

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But the antagonism between House Democrats and Whitaker was on full display throughout the hearing on Friday.

"At no time has the White House asked for nor have I provided any promises or commitments concerning the special counsel investigation or any other investigation", Whitaker said in his opening remarks.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to support William P. Barr, Trump's pick for attorney general, and the Republican-led Senate is expected to confirm him in coming weeks.

"Based upon today's action, it is apparent that the Committee's true intention is not to discuss the great work of the Department of Justice, but to create a public spectacle".

"I don't know if your time's been restored or not", he said.

He did draw gasps, however, when he told Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler, "Your five minutes are up".

Democrats said they would inquire about Whitaker's past business dealings, too.

They pointed to a pattern of administration witnesses, such as former attorney general Jeff Sessions, who refused to answer certain queries by suggesting the president "might" want to invoke executive privilege over certain parts of their testimony, to justify the concern.

Whitaker also will say that he had run the Justice Department to the best of his ability, with "fidelity to the law and to the Constitution".

According to CNN, former Trump associate Roger Stone was "one of the last key campaign associates" to be investigated. He talks to Anna Maria Tremonti about his time working on Trump's campaign, and having the president's ear.

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