Matt Whitaker to Eric Swalwell: 'I am not your puppet'

FILE – Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker

It was unclear whether Whitaker would even show up until late Thursday night after weeks of disputes between the Department of Justice and the House Judiciary committee.

Whitaker's highly anticipated testimony had been in limbo after the Democratic-led committee approved a tentative subpoena to ensure that he appeared and answered questions. Barbs were thrown; questions, dodged.

His answers to Democrats' questions often focused on procedure and involved rhetorical wind-ups that ate up precious seconds. The president's called him conflicted and you oversee the investigation, do you believe that Mr. Mueller's conflicted.

Its likely too early to discern the implications of these revelations.

In the days before Friday's hearing, Nadler and Whitaker sparred over the conditions of the appearance, as NPR reported Friday.

The hearing was the first, and likely only, chance for newly empowered Democrats in the majority to grill an attorney general they perceive as a Trump loyalist and whose appointment they suspect was aimed at suppressing investigations of the Republican president. Barr is widely expected to be confirmed.

Democrats pushed Whitaker on whether he was still critical of the special counsel investigation he is now in charge of.

Cohen blasted Whitaker for the DOJ's involvement in helping represent Trump in those matters, saying the president is "making personal monies" off the lease of a government building. The president has also said there was no collusion between his campaign and Russian Federation.

"Mr. Whitaker, you don't run this committee", said Raskin. Within just minutes of the hearing though, it became very apparent. In his opening statement, Nadler criticized Whitaker's decision not to recuse himself from the Mueller probe, despite the recommendations of Justice Department officials.

Republicans dismissed the hearing with Whitaker as a political stunt and moved to end it before it began.

Whitaker stunned onlookers when he told House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., that his time slot had expired as Nadler asked Whitaker if he'd been "asked to approve any requests or action" for the special counsel.

Nadler cracked a smile, but he was unfazed.

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

Jordan later asked if there are any other memos the American public can expect, to which Whitaker could not say.

"It's shocking how nervous and unsure of himself Whitaker appears to be", Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, wrote in an e-mail to TIME.

Whitaker sat on an advisory board of World Patent Marketing, which the Federal Trade Commission won a court order against to halt an invention-promotion scheme that the agency said falsely promised to patent and market people's inventions for fees.

"I'm thinking maybe we just set up a popcorn machine in the back", said Rep. Doug Collins, the committee's top Republican. They were voted down every time, vastly outnumbered by Democrats. Nadler ultimately agreed with those stipulations.

But on Friday, before concluding the hearing, Nadler made clear that option was still on the table.

"If he feels that a yes or a no is appropriate, he'll answer in a yes or a no; if he does not feel it's appropriate, he should be able to answer in the appropriate way, as many other Democrats have done before this committee before", Collins said.

"I am not kidding when I say I have interviewed terrorists who were more cooperative & respectful than Matt Whitaker was today... the attorney general role is America's lawyer, we are his client... he treated us with utter disdain".

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