Matt Whitaker Congress, appeared before the House Judiciary Committee.
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday to testify about oversight of the Justice Department. Whitaker’s testimony comes one day after the Senate Judiciary Committee narrowly voted to advance William Barr’s nomination to replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general along party lines. A full Senate is expected to confirm Barr as President Donald Trump’s chief law enforcement officer next week.
We’re live-blogging Whitaker’s testimony. Stay with us for updates.
Whitaker says he hasn’t been involved in discussions of any pardons, including ones for Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) asked Whitaker about any talks inside the Justice Department about potential pardons for former Trump associates or advisers Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen.
“Congressman, as I’ve been acting attorney general, I have not been involved in any discussions of any pardon, even and including the ones you’re discussing,” Whitaker said.
Mueller has charged 34 people and secured guilty pleas from six Trump associates or advisers, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen and former campaign aide George Papadopoulos. Roger Stone pleaded not guilty last month to seven charges, including one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false false statements and one count of witness tampering.
Whitaker also told Swalwell that he believes Mueller is honest.
“I have no reason to believe he’s not honest so, yes, I do believe he’s honest,” Whitaker said. He added that he does not believe Mueller is “conflicted,” as Trump has claimed.
Whitaker also revealed that he has not received Mueller’s report.
Whitaker denies that Trump lashed out at him on two occasions
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker refuted a CNN report that alleged President Trump lashed out at him on at least two occasions after his former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying for lying to Congress. Trump was allegedly mad that federal prosecutors who Whitaker oversees “filed charges that made him Trump look bad,” CNN reported at the time.
Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) if Trump had “lashed out” at him after Cohen pleaded guilty, Whitaker said, “No, he did not.”
Below is the exchange:
Cicilline: “Did the President lash out at you after Michael Cohen’s guilty plea for lying to Congress about a Trump organization project to build a tower in Moscow?”
Whitaker: “The President specifically tweeted that he had not lashed out.”
Cicilline: “I’m asking you Mr. Whitaker, did the President lash out at you? Not asking what he tweeted. I don’t have a lot of confidence in the veracity of his tweets. I’m asking you under oath.”
Whitaker: “Congressman that is based on an unsubstantiated…”
Cicilline: “Sir, answer the question: yes or no, did the President lash out at you about Mr. Cohen’s guilty plea?”
Whitaker: “No he did not.”
Democratic lawmaker tells Whitaker: “Keep your hands off the Mueller investigation”
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) began his five-minute questioning by asking Whitaker, “Who are you? Where did you come from? And how the heck did you become the head of the Department of Justice?”