Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker stunned onlookers and lawmakers during an already-contentious House hearing Friday, when he tried to call time on the Democratic chairman after yet another line of questioning regarding Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.
The retort came after Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., first said he wanted Whitaker to appear for a private deposition after the hearing and went on to ask Whitaker whether he had been “asked to approve any requests or action” for the special counsel.
“Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up, so…” Whitaker replied as the hearing room broke out in gasps. “I am here voluntarily. We have agreed to five-minute rounds.”
Nadler, who even cracked a slight smile at the response, repeated his question, and Whitaker ultimately responded: “I have not interfered in any way with the special counsel’s investigation.”
As it dragged on, the hearing repeatedly gave way to bickering among Whitaker and Democratic lawmakers, and among members of the committee, over whether Whitaker was properly answering questions. At one point, he tussled with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, when she pressed on whether he’s appeared before for an oversight hearing.
While the answer, eventually, was that he had not, the congresswoman objected when Whitaker would not answer with a requested “yes or no.” When she asked the chairman if her time had been restored, Whitaker snarked back: “I don’t know whether your time’s been restored or not.”
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