In a letter to Nadler on Thursday afternoon, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote that Whitaker is prepared to testify that "at no time did the White House ask for, or did the acting attorney general provide, any promises or commitments concerning the special counsel's investigation".
So far, the hearing has not shed much light on the status of the Mueller investigation - and it may not. In his opening statement, Nadler criticized Whitaker's decision not to recuse himself from the Mueller probe, despite the recommendations of Justice Department officials.
Whitaker has been undertaking significant preparations ahead of the hearing, including conducting briefings with every the Justice Department component and participating in several mock hearings, according to the officials. Jackson Lee had asked Whitaker whether he ever appeared before an oversight hearing or was confirmed in the Senate, and Nadler demanded he "answer the question as asked".
"I trust that the Members of this Committee will respect the confidentiality that is necessary to the proper functioning of the Presidency - just as we respect the confidentiality necessary to the Legislative Branch", Whitaker said. The testimony ended with Nadler warning that the answers Whitaker gave were insufficient. After conversations with the committee, a department spokeswoman said, Nadler agreed that the committee would not issue a subpoena tomorrow if Whitaker voluntarily appears at the hearing.
Nadler also told Whitaker that he would "view with considerable skepticism any effort to decline to answer on the basis that the inquiry is related to an ongoing criminal investigation".
Democrats have expressed concerns about Whitaker's previous partisan statements about the Mueller probe, his resumé and not being in the line of succession to succeed Jeff Sessions.
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Pelosi and Trump have had a tense relationship since the government shutdown that kicked off her speakership. This time, the dissonance between Trump's words and the political reality was more jarring than ever.
The room then broke into laughter as Nadler looked up with a shocked face that melted into a grin.
"I am aware of that, and it was deeply concerning to me as to how CNN found out about that", Whitaker said.
But Whitaker's appointment has always been a test for how Democrats will use their newfound majority to flex their oversight muscles. "This is a responsibility we take very seriously", Nadler said. Nadler added that he will likely ask Whitaker to return for another round of questioning at some point in the future, possibly under subpoena.
"We require answers to these questions".
"I do think Trump's gonna position him somewhere else", said Figliuzzi.
The stalemate ended Thursday evening after the committee chairman, Nadler of NY, said the committee would not issue a subpoena if Whitaker appeared voluntarily. The Senate is expected to vote as soon as next week on confirming William Barr, Trump's pick for attorney general.
He talks to Anna Maria Tremonti about his time working on Trump's campaign, and having the president's ear. He's also called it "presidential harassment".