Acting U.S. attorney general snaps at Democrats over Russian Federation probe

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Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) questioned Whitaker about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and allegations of collusion or obstruction of justice by the commander-in-chief. Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee got into a testy exchange with the acting attorney general about whether the Mueller investigation was a "witch hunt" - one of the President's signature insults.

They are also expected to grill Whitaker about his appointment last November, which some leftist advocacy groups have challenged in court; his relationship with Trump; and his ties to an invention promotion company that was shut down by federal regulators who said it scammed consumers. "In the current environment, the American people have to know that there are places in government where the rule of law-not politics-holds sway, and where they will be treated fairly based exclusively on the facts and an even-handed application of the law", he said during his testimony last month.

"I don't know if your time's been restored or not", he said. "The Department of Justice must be such a place".

"Mr. Attorney General, we're not joking here, and your humor is not acceptable", Jackson Lee said.

During his tenure, he added, the department has "complied with special counsel regulations and there has been no change in how the department has worked with the special counsel's office".

Whitaker never directly answered Nadler about whether anyone had ever asked him to intervene with Mueller.

During the hearing, Mr Whitaker told the committee: "While I have specifically been saying that I'm not going to comment about my conversations with the president or his senior staff I have also been very clear that the president has not instructed me to do anything". "But, to answer your questions, I have not talked to the president about the special counsel's investigation".

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Nadler accused Whitaker of stalling but got pushback from the Republican Collins, who said Jackson Lee's demand of "yes or no" was inappropriate. He previously tried backing out of the testimony unless the committee's members promised they would not issue him a subpoena.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker appears before the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019, in Washington.

Nadler called the hearing to provide oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice, which Whitaker has overseen since former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was sacked in November.

Jeffries asked "how the heck" he became acting attorney general.

Friday was likely the first and last time that Whitaker will testify as acting attorney general.

"We have obtained new documents showing that you failed to return thousands of dollars that were supposed to be distributed to the victims of World Patent Marketing's alleged fraud, despite your involvement...in handling complaints from individuals of the company's actions", four House committee chairman wrote in a letter to Whitaker dated Thursday.

"The Democrats in Congress yesterday were vicious and totally showed their cards for everyone to see", Trump tweeted.

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