A Congressman Asked Matt Whitaker About the Mueller Probe. The AG’s Response Drew Gasps.

The moment brought loud gasps at a congressional hearing.

Tom Williams/Zumapress

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

Testifying on Friday before the House Judiciary Committee, acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker replied to a question by the panel’s chair, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), with a response that stunned the room and drew audible gasps.

As the temporary head of the Justice Department, Whitaker now oversees Robert Mueller’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Given his critical comments about the Mueller probe before joining the DOJ—he called the investigation a “witch-hunt” in one op-ed—Democrats have been eager to question him about his views on the inquiry and any actions he’s taken in connection with it since taking the helm of the agency.

But when Nadler tried to ask Whitaker whether he had ever been asked to approve any of Mueller’s actions, the interim AG declined to answer, telling the committee chair that his allotted five minutes were up. 

In addition to the uproar at the hearing, journalists who cover Congress, including CNN’s Phil Mattingly, were gobsmacked by Whitaker’s chutzpah:

Whitaker is unlikely to be formally rebuked for his intransigence. While a congressional hearing witness can be held in contempt of Congress, such cases are typically referred to the DOJ—which could mean that Whitaker would have to decide to prosecute himself.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.