Matthew Whitaker subpoena approved by House Democrats

Whitaker says he won’t testify unless Democrats drop their subpoena threat

Matt Whitaker Tries Bailing On Congressional Testimony After Democrats Threaten Subpoena

Acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker said he will not appear before Congress Friday without assurances he won't be subpoenaed - giving Democrats a deadline of 6 p.m. Thursday to respond. "Thirdly and importantly, what I don't think your viewers know, is that when Matt says "I can't answer that question because it's privileged" or 'I can't answer that question because it's an ongoing investigation, ' if you're under subpoena, it makes it much easier for the committee to compel you to answer".

"Without the threat of a subpoena, I believe it may be hard to hold Mr. Whitaker to this standard", Nadler said earlier Thursday.

"Such unprecedented action breaches our prior agreement and circumvents the constitutionally required accommodation process", Whitaker said in a statement.

He added that he refuses to take part in their "political theater".

"If you appear before the committee tomorrow morning and you are prepared to respond to questions from our members, then I assure you that there will be no need for the committee to issue a subpoena on or before February 8", Nadler wrote in a letter to Whitaker.

In the letter, the Justice Department criticized Nadler for authorizing the subpoena "even though the Committee had not yet asked him a single question" and suggested Democrats were seeking to "transform the hearing into a public spectacle".

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The committee's Democrats want to question Whitaker about his oversight of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and his communications with the White House related to the probe and the firing of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Should Whitaker refuse to answer any of them, it is likely that Democrats will issue the subpoena. Nadler has worked to appear extraordinarily fair and respectful by submitting a list of questions to the Acting Attorney General two weeks ago, and by telling him in a public letter he must give the Committee 48 hours advance notice if he plans on invoking executive privilege, The Daily Beast reports.

The questions Democrats want to ask Whitaker - outlined in a January 22 letter to which the AG did not respond until Thursday - fall under "a category of communications that Administrations of both parties have viewed as raising confidentiality interests that are vital to a President's ability to discharge the responsibilities of his office", Whitaker wrote in his letter.

If the panel had questions about oversight of Mueller's probe, Republicans also argued, better to question Rosenstein, who had been monitoring it for far longer than Whitaker. Whitaker responded by saying he won't appear unless the committee dropped its subpoena threat, which he derided as an act of "political theater". Earlier Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to the send nomination of William Barr as next US attorney general to the full Senate for consideration.

Republicans strongly opposed Nadler's resolution to approve a subpoena if necessary. "I'm concerned about the chilling effect on other witnesses who would be willing to testify voluntarily, and when they see this happen, they'll just hold out".

Boyd laid out an argument for asserting such executive privilege in the letter, saying that administration officials from both parties have declined to answer questions about conversations they have had with the president.

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