I have ‘not interfered’ with Mueller investigation, Whitaker says

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The hearing came after a dispute over whether he could be forced to disclose his conversations with the president.

Whitaker said that he has run the Justice Department to the best of his ability, with "fidelity to the law and to the Constitution".

House of Representatives judiciary committee hearing, adding that he has not taken any action in the probe or interfered "in any way".

When Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) asked Whitaker if he'd ever been asked to "approve any request or action to be taken by" Mueller, the acting AG answered, "Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up, so".

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Thursday to recommend that the full Senate confirm Barr as attorney general, which could happen as soon as next week.

Congressman Doug Collins, the top Republican on the committee, accused Democrats of staging political drama.

"If this is the way we're going to go, then we'll have plenty of stunts, plenty of theatrics, bring your popcorn, I'm thinking maybe set up a popcorn machine in the back, because that's what this has become, it's becoming a show".

Later, Collins questioned Whitaker about the indictment of Trump's long-time friend Roger Stone, including how CNN had a reporter in front of Stone's house when he was arrested. In the end, Nadler backed down and Whitaker agreed to appear.

She also brought up Trump's attacks on the DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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Justice Department ethics officials had recommended Whitaker recuse himself from overseeing the Russian Federation investigation, a step he chose not to take.

"I will not allow the witness to stall and waste members' time", Nadler said.

The tense atmosphere was apparent from the start, as Nadler told Whitaker that as he answered questions, he would "expect either a clean answer or a proper assertion of privilege claimed by the president".

He said he had "consulted with a lot of people" about the options, but it was ultimately his choice.

As acting attorney general, he refused to recuse himself from supervising Mueller's probe despite the advice of a career Justice Department ethics official who was concerned his past comments created the appearance of a conflict of interest, department officials said.

After Mr Whitaker, the former chief of staff to Mr Sessions, was temporarily appointed to the position, it emerged he had written several op-eds that were sharply critical of Mr Mueller's probe. But when Jordan asked him whether specific names were in the document - which Jordan charged would go against Justice Department policy - Whitaker demurred.

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.

Whitaker had publicly criticized the investigation before joining the Justice Department in 2017 but said on Friday he had not discussed it with Trump. Trading Whitaker in for him will be one of the Trump presidency's rare blessings.

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