Subpoena Threat Jeopardizes Matthew Whitaker Congressional Testimony

Matt Whitaker Tries Bailing On Congressional Testimony After Democrats Threaten Subpoena

Acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker is scheduled to appear Friday morning before the House Judiciary Committee - a high-stakes confrontation that was almost canceled a day earlier in a standoff with Democratic lawmakers.

By arming themselves with a pre-emptive subpoena to dangle over Whitaker's head on Friday during his voluntary testimony, the committee's Democrats had hoped to expedite disclosure of his conversations with Trump.

But it appears that Justice Department and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler of NY struck an agreement over Whitaker's appearance after he threatened on Thursday not to appear amid a furious back-and-forth between the committee and the Justice Department over a possible subpoena.

"We were informed around a certain time last night, about 7:00 last night, that an agreement had been made, and it was a full cave by the committee chairman".

Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the panel, called the subpoena authorization "political theater" before the vote.

Whitaker had said he would not testify if the committee exercised its authority to subpoena him as a witness. DOJ officials said Nadler will receive the response letter prior to Friday's hearing. "With respect to the Special Counsel investigation, the Department has complied with the Special Counsel regulations, and the Acting Attorney General will make clear that there has been no change in how the Department has worked with the Special Counsel's office". He agreed. Both parties engaged in a back and forth regarding scheduling.

Meanwhile, nominee Bill Barr will probably be confirmed as the new Attorney General. "That is exactly how the process should work". "There has been no breakdown here".

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The vote doesn't issue a subpoena to Whitaker but allows committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler to do so if Whitaker is uncooperative.

Nadler noted that previous Trump administration officials, including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have declined to answer questions about conversations with the White House during testimony, saying that the president might want to claim executive privilege on those conversations in the future.

They also sought documents about the department's recent decision regarding online gambling, citing campaign donations from casino executives to Whitaker's campaign years after he ended an unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid.

Whitaker is likely in his final days as the country's chief law enforcement officer as the Senate prepares to vote soon on William Barr, Trump's pick for attorney general.

Justice Department ethics officials recommended Whitaker recuse himself, a step he chose not to take. He was an outspoken critic of the Russian Federation investigation before arriving at the Justice Department in 2017. Whitaker couldn't walk into the hearing and say he was surprised by the questions and couldn't answer because the president needs time.

Later, Nadler tweeted that Whitaker had agreed to show up.

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