Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) scolded acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker on Friday for behaving in an unacceptable manner toward her during a heated congressional hearing.
The congresswoman began her line of questioning by informing Whitaker that she planned to ask him yes-or-no questions about his role at the Justice Department and oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Members often asked yes or no questions during oversight hearings in order to get through more questions within the five-minute time limit they have.
Whitaker insisted on offering more expansive answers in an apparent attempt to run out the clock.
“Witness will answer the question as asked, please,” House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said in response to his answers.
The ranking Republican on the committee, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), complained that “Democrat administration officials” had been allowed to answer questions as they wished.
“The member has only five minutes, I will not allow the witness to stall and waste members’ time,” Nadler fired back.
Jackson Lee said, “Can I have my time restored — I think it was that four minutes?”
She continued, “Thank you. Again, Mr. Attorney General, the question is did you have a confirmation hearing and has it been more than ten years since you’ve testified before Congress?”
Whitaker said, “I’m sorry, I don’t know if your time has been restored or not.”
“Mr. Attorney General, we’re not joking here,” she said. “Your humor is not acceptable. Now, you are here because we have a constitutional duty to ask questions, and the Congress has the right to establish government rules. The rules are that you are here. So I need to ask the question, and I need to have my time restored so that you can behave appropriately. I will behave appropriately as a member of the Judiciary Committee. I’ve asked a question. Did you have a confirmation hearing and have you not yet appeared for an oversight hearing?”
Whitaker said, “Congresswoman, I am an acting attorney general. I have been appointed according to the Vacancies Reform Act. And I have never appeared in front of Congress for any hearing even when I was United States Attorney.”
Whitaker tries to run out the clock instead of answering @JacksonLeeTX18's extremely straightforward question about if he's testified during an oversight hearing before.
"Mr attorney general, we are not joking here and your humor is not acceptable," she admonishes him. pic.twitter.com/LP0aaikYre
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 8, 2019