Former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence, Frank Figliuzzi, criticized Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker’s behavior while testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday, comparing him to a terrorist.
Whitaker, who was appointed to the role by President Donald Trump following the ousting of Jeff Sessions in November, repeatedly avoided questions from House Democrats and at times, challenged the authority of the committee.
Speaking on MSNBC shortly after the heated hearing, the former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence said Whitaker’s performance compared negatively to some of the most dangerous criminals he had interviewed in his career.
“I’m not kidding when I say I have interviewed terrorists who are more cooperative and respectful than Matt Whitaker was today,” Figliuzzi began, provoking laughter from MSNBC host Nicole Wallace. “I gotta tell you, I say that with sadness, because the attorney general role is America’s lawyer.
“We are his client and we are represented by the Congress members sitting in that room and he treated us with utter disdain, sarcasm, barely trying to get through this seriously,” Figliuzzi continued. “This is basically thumbing your nose at oversight by the people. And the way he conducted himself today is an indication that he is not America’s attorney. He is essentially seeing himself as Trump’s attorney.”
Whitaker faced scrutiny over why he was chosen by Trump to head the Justice Department, rather than the normal line of succession rules being followed.
At times, the acting AG appeared to be deliberately stalling the proceedings to avoid answering Democrats’ questions.
At one point, Whitaker informed Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler that his five minutes of questioning time had expired, prompting gasps from the chamber.
Whitaker made a similar remark to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, prompting a fierce rebuke.
“Mr. attorney general, we’re not joking here. And your humor is not acceptable,” Jackson Lee said. “Now, you are here because we have a constitutional duty to ask questions, and the Congress has a right to establish government rules. The rules are that you are here, and I need to ask the question and I need to have my time restored so that you can behave appropriately.”