“This hearing is a character assassination on Acting Attorney General Whitaker, all pure political theater, to go after the president,” said Collins in his opening statement.
The congressman pointed out that Whitaker’s tenure was coming to a close. “By next Thursday, Bill Barr will be attorney general,” said Collins. “This gentleman is finishing up his term as acting attorney general.”
The congressman who then asked the committee to vote to abruptly end the hearing. The committee proceeded to vote, however the measure did not pass and the hearing went on as planned.
“The hearing follows an intense back and forth between the Justice Department and the Judiciary Committee a day earlier.
The Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to give [chairman Jerrold] Nadler the authority to issue a subpoena if necessary, despite Whitaker having already agreed to appear before the panel voluntarily.
Nadler made clear early Thursday that he did not want to have to subpoena Whitaker, but said a “series of troubling events” suggested it would be better for him to be prepared with that authority, just in case he decided not to show up for the hearing.
But Whitaker then warned he would not show up unless lawmakers dropped the threat.”
Whitaker wrote Nadler, “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.”
Nadler responded hours later, writing if Whitaker was “prepared to respond to questions from our members, then I assure you there will be no need for the committee to issue a subpoena on or before February 8.”
Watch Collins’ opening statement below:
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