But Friday marked his first overview hearing on Capitol Hill.
"I'm confused, I really am," said Democratic representative Hakeem Jeffries to Whitaker at one point. "We are all figuring out who you are, where do you come from and how did you, for God's sake, become the head of the department? Of justice."
Despite the lingering questions about his resume and suspicions of why he was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who would have been the natural replacement for Sessions, Whitaker presented himself to Nadler, a 13-year-old congressman, with the same aloofness and contempt for the tradition that often seems to be typical of the Trump White House. And that could have been on purpose. Whitaker, whose tenure ends when Bill Barr is confirmed next week as Attorney General, will need a new job. He is reportedly being considered for the role of Trump's chief of staff. And although he stated under oath that he "does not interfere in any way with the investigation of the special counselor", he repeatedly refused to contradict Trump's claims that Mueller is on a "witch hunt".
Chuck Rosenberg, a former official of the Department of Justice who resigned in 2017, said that Whitaker & # 39; easily & # 39; would have been to say that Mueller's investigation is legitimate, as Barr did during his recent confirmation hearings. "I do not know how anyone could be so cowardly," he added. But that would have undermined his boss's main point of contact-and Whitaker would not have been a good move if he were actually auditioning for his next job.
Instead, Whitaker had prepared a standard response to the countless questions asked by Democrats about the Mueller probe: "It would not be appropriate to talk about an ongoing investigation," he said. Democrats, however, found that insincere Whitaker had publicly discussed the probe earlier this month, even so far that they speculated that it would soon be completed. During the highly controversial Friday surveillance horizon, he participated in a Republican investigation into how the old trusted Roger Stone of Trump was arrested in Florida last month by the FBI – and why a reporter had been there prior to the robbery plotted. "I share your concern about the possibility of a media store being sued or accused by Mr. Stone before it was made," Whitaker told representative Doug Collins, who later admitted that he had no prior knowledge to suggest that the media outlet, CNN had the foreword about Stone's arrest.
Trump still has to respond to the performance of Whitaker. But there seemed to be little to complain about. Whitaker told the lawmakers that Trump, despite another report from CNN, had not "beaten" about the investigation into his long-term personal lawyer Michael Cohen. And contrary to his testimony that he had not discussed the Mueller investigation with Trump, Whitaker avoided questions about whether he had discussed the Cohen issue with the president. "As I have mentioned several times today, I am not going to discuss my private discussions with the president," he told the Democratic representative Val Demmings.