Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker tried to dodge a question about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation at a House hearing Friday by telling Chairman Jared Nadler (D-N.Y.) that his questioning time was up.
“Now in your capacity as acting Attorney General, have you ever been asked to approve any request or action to be taken by the special counsel?” Nadler asked.
“Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up,” Whitaker answered. The room erupted in laughter. Nadler, as chairman, controls the committee and decides for himself how long he and others can speak. Whitaker didn’t get it.
“I’m here voluntarily,” he said as the room continued to laugh. “We’ve agreed to five-minute rounds.”
Nadler laughed and shook his head himself before clarifying the hearing’s rules. “I will point out that we didn’t enforce the five-minute rule on the acting Attorney General Whitaker,” he said, before repeating the original question about Special Counsel Mueller.
“The attorney general was in the middle of saying something, answer the question, please.”
Watch the video below:
NADLER: "In your capacity as acting attorney general have you ever been asked to approve any request for action to be taken by the special counsel?"
WHITAKER: "Mr chairman, I see that your time is up."
[uproarious laughter] pic.twitter.com/sHlPpXP9Os
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 8, 2019
Whitaker eventually responded to Nadler original inquiry. “I have not interfered in any way with the special counsel’s investigation,” he said.
Whitaker’s hearing was tense with House Democrats as the acting Attorney General began his opening statement saying that he would refuse to answer questions regarding his conversations with President Donald Trump.
Whitaker, unlike his predecessor Jeff Sessions, said he would not recuse himself from overseeing Russia investigation despite the Justice Department’s ethics official’s recommendation that he do so.
“Mr. Whitaker, like everyone else at the Department of Justice, you are entitled to your political opinions,” Nadler began the hearing Friday.
“But when career officials at the department recommended that you take steps to mitigate your apparent conflicts of interest, Mr. Whitaker — when they told you that your public criticism of the special counsel was bad for the department and bad for the administration of justice, you ignored them.”