When asked if he believes Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is a witch hunt, Whitaker wouldn't say, replying, "It would be inappropriate for me to talk about an ongoing investigation". The Senate is slated to vote next week on William Barr, who President Trump nominated to permanently replace Whitaker's predecessor Jeff Sessions.
Whitaker, the committee heads said, has not repaid those funds. "The official report will go directly to the Department of Justice".
Friday's hearing nearly didn't happen after Whitaker said Thursday he would not attend if the Democrat-led committee forced him to do so.
During his tenure, he added, the department has "complied with special counsel regulations and there has been no change in how the department has worked with the special counsel's office".
The acting attorney general said that Mueller was would finish the probe "when he wants to finish his investigation".
He was also pushed to explain his decision not to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation.
"Congressman, I am not here to be a puppet to repeat terms and words that you say that I should say", Whitaker told Swalwell Friday.
Olivia Beavers, a reporter at The Hill, posted a photo of Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) in shock over Whitaker's response.
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Jerry Nadler asks Matthew Whitaker if he has ever been asked to approve any request or action to be taken by the Special Counsel.
Jordan and conservative Republicans have sought unsuccessfully to gain access to the mostly redacted three-page memo that lays out the parameters of the special counsel's investigation.
In a letter to Whitaker, Nadler withdrew the subpoena threat after the acting attorney agreed to attend the hearing. Republicans on the committee, incensed by what Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking member, said was a "character assassination", first tried to adjourn the hearing, and then attempted to limit the scope of the questions. The committee and Justice Department eventually agreed he would voluntarily appear on February 8.
During a combative back-and-forth with Whitaker, Nadler grew frustrated and announced his intention to recall Whitaker for a deposition, saying he expected Whitaker to then provide "clean" answers or to properly assert executive privilege.
Jeffries asked "how the heck" he became acting attorney general.
Democrats demanded he recuse himself, and have called for an investigation into his decision not to recuse despite the recommendation from DOJ ethics officials.
"The Democrats in Congress yesterday were vicious and totally showed their cards for everyone to see", Trump tweeted Saturday morning.
"Mr. Whitaker, like everyone else at the Department of Justice, you are entitled to your political opinions", Democratic committee chair Jared Nadler said at the start of Friday's hearing.
It is true that Barr, during his testimony before the Judiciary Committee, declined to make specific promises about how he would carry out his role overseeing the Mueller investigation.