Former Trump prosecutor mostly mum before Congress

Former Trump prosecutor mostly mum before Congress

On May 10, 2023, former Trump prosecutor, Matthew Whitaker, appeared before the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about his time in the Justice Department. However, Whitaker was mostly silent throughout the hearing, citing privilege and other reasons for not answering questions.

Whitaker served as acting attorney general for three months in 2018 after President Trump fired Jeff Sessions. During his time in the role, Whitaker oversaw special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Whitaker has been accused of obstructing the investigation, but he denies the allegations.

During the hearing, Democrats on the committee questioned Whitaker about his involvement in the Mueller investigation and other controversial decisions made by the Justice Department during his tenure. However, Whitaker largely declined to answer, citing executive privilege or simply saying he did not remember.

At one point, committee Chairman Jerry Nadler accused Whitaker of trying to run out the clock and avoid answering questions. Nadler also threatened to hold Whitaker in contempt of Congress if he continued to refuse to answer.

Whitaker’s appearance before the committee came after a years-long battle over his testimony. The Justice Department had previously argued that he was immune from having to testify, citing executive privilege. However, a federal judge ruled earlier this year that Whitaker could be compelled to testify.

Despite the legal victory, Democrats were left frustrated by Whitaker’s lack of answers at the hearing. Some suggested that his refusal to answer was indicative of a larger pattern of obstruction by the Trump administration.

Whitaker’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee is just the latest example of the ongoing battle between Congress and the executive branch over the limits of executive privilege and the ability of Congress to conduct oversight. As the battle continues, it remains to be seen whether Congress will be able to compel cooperation from current and former Trump officials in ongoing investigations.

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