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

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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.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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