House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Val Butler Demings (D-FL) questions Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker during an oversight hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill February 8 in Washington, DC.
Midway through the hearing, as Nadler asked whether Whitaker had ever "been asked to approve any action or request to be taken by the special counsel", Whitaker noted that Nadler's allotted time had elapsed, according to CNN.
"Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up, so..." "We have agreed to five-minute rounds", he added.
Whitaker testified that he has not discussed the probe with President Donald Trump nor denied funding for it, as Democrats pressed him on everything from his conversations with the President and other White House officials to his decision not to recuse himself from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. But when Jordan asked him whether specific names were in the document - which Jordan charged would go against Justice Department policy - Whitaker demurred.
The remark drew gasps in the hearing room, where committee chairmen hold vast power, including over who asks the questions and for how long.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) did not press Whitaker about his thoughts on the Russian Federation probe, but he shared his concerns about another controversy.
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"I will not allow the witness to stall and waste members' time", Nadler said.
Within minutes of the hearing, the top Republican, Rep. Doug Collins, called for a vote to adjourn, although he was quickly overruled by Democrats.
"We are pleased to announce that Matthew G. Whitaker, Chief of Staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice, will become our new Acting Attorney General of the United States".
On Thursday the committee clashed with the Department of Justice over Democrats' plans to subpoena Whitaker - during the hearing if Nadler chose to do so.
Whitaker then said he would not answer questions based on representatives' "speculation".
Whitaker's time as acting attorney general is likely coming to an end soon, with the Senate expected to vote to confirm President Trump's attorney general nominee William Barr next week. "I say that with sadness, because the attorney general role is America's lawyer, we are his client, and we are represented by the congressmembers sitting in that room".
In a letter, the heads of the House Oversight and Reform, Energy and Commerce, Judiciary and Intelligence committees said new records showed Whitaker did not return money to consumers who had complained about the company's practices. He stopped short of asserting executive privilege, the contention that a president needs to be able to rely on confidential counsel from his advisers. On Thursday, Democrats on the committee marked up a subpoena for possible use to compel his cooperation. Whitaker responded by saying that he would not come unless the committee dropped its subpoena threat, which he called an act of "political theater". But he did not hold back in his opening statement, repudiated Whitaker's decision not to recuse himself from the Mueller probe, despite the recommendations of Justice Department officials. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein oversaw the investigation until Whitaker was appointed after Sessions's resignation. Collins said Friday the Democrats' move was part of a "character assassination".