The hearing was the first, and likely only, chance for newly empowered Democrats in the majority to grill an attorney general they perceive as a Trump loyalist and whose appointment they suspect was aimed at suppressing investigations of the Republican president. The rules are that you are here, so I need to ask the question and I need to have my time restored so that you can behave appropriately. Whitaker responded by saying he wouldn't appear unless the committee dropped its subpoena threat, which he derided as an act of "political theater".
Whitaker was a skeptic of Mueller before he came to work for the department, but he said his criticisms were based on the views of an outsider and that he's since gotten a better understanding of the case as acting attorney general.
Whitaker's appearance had been thrown into uncertainty after House Democrats threatened to subpoena his testimony about the special counsel's Russian Federation investigation. "Consistent with longstanding practice, I remain willing to appear to testify tomorrow, provided that the Chairman assures me that the Committee will not issue a subpoena today or tomorrow, and that the Committee will engage in good faith negotiations before taking such a step down the road".
Differences over a barrier were the crux of a dispute between Democrats and Trump that led to the recent partial government shutdown - and the government could shut down again unless negotiators can make progress on a deal to fund the Department of Homeland Security.
"This is a breach of the agreement", and a "striking departure from long-standing processes". He's an outstanding person.
"I do think Trump's gonna position him somewhere else", said Figliuzzi.
Collins called the hearing a "dog and pony show" and criticized Democrats for disclosing derogatory information about Whitaker's business dealings hours before the hearing. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.).
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Democrats approved the subpoena over the objection of Republicans, who accused Nadler of authorizing a pre-emptive subpoena as "political theater" with questions created to embarrass the acting attorney general.
Nadler, before the compromise, had said that the subpoena authority was needed in light of "troubling events", including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions' refusal in two hearings in 2017 to answer questions about conversations with Trump.
Those conversations would fall under executive privilege. "Answer the question, please".
Whitaker and Nadler then clashed when the witness informed the chair his five-minute time limit to ask questions had run out. "There has been no breakdown here".
He said that Democrats on the panel were more interested in putting on a show aiming to damage the president.
"In a quest to score political points against the President, they authorized a preemptive subpoena, treating a voluntary witness as hostile", Collins said.
But Democrats, and perhaps Republicans, are sure to press him on a slew of matters, including his involvement with Mueller's investigation and interactions with the president in recent months. The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted, on party lines, to advance Barr's nomination to the full Senate for confirmation.