Jerry Nadler Vows to Subpoena Acting AG Whitaker over Mueller Probe

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Jamie Squire/Getty, Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Global Citizen

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, reiterated his pledge to compel acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to testify before Congress regarding his stance on special counsel Robert Mueller investigation into purported collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

In a Wednesday interview with USA Today, Nadler said his first act as chairman will be to ensure Whitaker briefs lawmakers on what steps he has taken to “protect” the Russia probe. “We will, if we have to subpoena him and we will ask him, basically, about protecting the Mueller investigation,” Nadler said.

Nadler made a similar promise in an interview with CNN in November.

“Our very first witness after January 3, we will subpoena, or we will summon, if necessary subpoena, Mr. Whitaker,” he told CNN host Jake Tapper on State of the Union. “Well, the questions we will ask him will be about his expressed hostility to the investigation,” he continued. “How he can possibly supervise it when he’s expressed, when he’s come out and said that the investigation is invalid.”

The longtime New York congressman, who will assume power when Democrats take over the House Thursday, also told the newspaper that he plans to press Whitaker on whether he “directed Mueller not to indict somebody” or requested the special counsel forgo specific inquiries.

Whitaker rebuffed a recommendation by a Justice Department ethics official to recuse himself from the investigation. According to CNN, the unnamed official’s recommendation states that while Whitaker’s involvement in the probe poses no legal conflicts, it may reflect negatively to the public.  “If a recommendation were sought, they would advise that the Acting Attorney General should recuse himself from supervision of the Special Counsel investigation because it was their view that a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts likely would question the impartiality of the Acting Attorney General,” reads the recommendation letter.
Democrats have seized on comments Whitaker made in 2017, in which the Justice Department official told the Rose Unplugged radio show that the special counsel’s appointment was “ridiculous” and “smells a little fishy.”

“For whatever reason, Rod Rosenstein determined that the Department of Justice couldn’t handle this in their ordinary course of work, which I think was ridiculous,” said Whitaker. “So I think it smells a little fishy, but I just hope it doesn’t turn into a fishing expedition, because I will be one of [the people] jumping up and down making sure the limitations on this investigation continue because that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

On November 7, President Donald Trump appointed Whitaker as acting Attorney General after firing his boss then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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