President Trump’s Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker drew groans and gasps of astonishment when he told Democratic House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Friday that his time is up amid questioning about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
“Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up,” Whitaker told Rep. Nadler.
“I am here voluntarily. We have agreed to five minute rounds,” he added.
"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?" House Judiciary Chair Nadler asks.
— ABC News (@ABC) February 8, 2019
Nadler reacted to the breach of protocol for a witness testifying before a congressional panel with some laughter.
Rep. Jamie Raskin’s (D-Md.) jaw dropped while other lawmakers looked surprised at the quip.
— Olivia Beavers (@Olivia_Beavers) February 8, 2019
Nadler called the committee to order, and he pointed out the five-minute rule was not enforced on Whitaker’s opening statement.
“The committee will come to order,” he said. “I will point out we didn’t enforce the five minute rule on acting attorney general Whitaker.”
“That might be a good breaking point,” suggested ranking Republican Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), but Nadler said Whitaker was in the middle of answering a question.
Whitaker asked Nadler to repeat the question.
“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?” Nadler said.
“I want to be very specific about this, Mr. Chairman,” Whitaker said, “because I think it will allay a lot of fears that have existed among this committee, among the legislative branch largely and maybe amongst some American people. We have followed the counsel’s regulations to a tee. There’s been no event, no decision that has required me to take any action and I’ve not interfered in any way with the special counsel’s investigation.”