Whitaker refuses to testify unless Democrats drop subpoena threat

Democrats eager to press Whitaker on Mueller and Trump

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

After threatening to pull out of his scheduled testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker has backed off, and will appear at 9:30 a.m.

In this February 5, 2019, photo, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, center, and acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, right, and members of President Donald Trump's cabinet arrive to attend the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Whitaker's highly anticipated testimony was in limbo for much of the day Thursday after the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee approved a tentative subpoena to ensure that he appeared and answered questions.

Nadler argued in a letter to Whitaker that he could not claim the White House reserved the right to claim executive privilege to avoid answering those questions. The vote by the House panel didn't issue a subpoena but allowed Nadler to do so if Whitaker was uncooperative.

Nadler said in his statement that the committee granted him with subpoena power to show that with Democrats in power, Congress would no longer allow "government witnesses to dodge uncomfortable questions".

Whitaker and Boyd's letters Thursday are early indicators that the president's legal team will take an aggressive approach to stall the disclosure of conversations between Trump and his advisers to House investigators.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said on Thursday he will not appear before Congress unless a House committee drops its threat of a subpoena for his testimony.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is testifying before Congress for the first time Friday, with Democrats eager to press him on his interactions with President Donald Trump and his oversight of the special counsel's Russian Federation investigation.

Nadler has criticized Whitaker for not recusing himself from the Mueller probe, as Sessions did due to his involvement with the Trump campaign in 2016, as Whitaker has made comments criticizing the investigation.

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Asked whether Whitaker wouldn't testify due to a subpoena threat, Trump replied, "That I don't know".

They are calling him to testify even though his time leading the Justice Department is ending, with the Senate expected this month to confirm Trump's nominee for attorney general, William Barr. A Justice Department spokesperson told Fox News earlier this week that Whitaker had, in fact, accepted Nadler's invitation to testify in public.

"The subpoena will only be issued if he refuses to answer questions on a speculative basis of privilege", Nadler said.

"Rather than conducting appropriate oversight into the department's programs and activities, the committee evidently seeks to ask questions about confidential presidential communications that no attorney general could ever be expected to disclose under the circumstances", Boyd wrote.

Republicans said the vote was unnecessary because Whitaker has agreed to appear voluntarily.

Republicans strongly opposed Nadler's resolution to approve a subpoena if necessary.

"In a quest to score political points against the President, they authorized a preemptive subpoena, treating a voluntary witness as hostile", Collins said.

Collins said that the Justice Department's response to the subpoena vote showed that Democrats "overplayed their hand".

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