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Acting AG Whitaker to Testify in Feb.  01/16 06:12

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker will testify 
before the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 8, appearing as one of the new 
Democratic majority's first witnesses as they seek to provide more stringent 
oversight of President Donald Trump.

   In a letter sent to Whitaker Tuesday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman 
Jerrold Nadler says he is "happy to have reached an agreement for you to 
appear" on that date. Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec confirmed that 
Whitaker would appear.

   Nadler said last year that Whitaker, a close ally of Trump who has 
criticized special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, would be one 
of his first witnesses once he became chairman. Since then, Trump has nominated 
former attorney general William Barr for the permanent job --- meaning Whitaker 
could potentially be out of office by the time the hearing commences.

   Barr was testifying before the Senate on Tuesday as Nadler made the 
announcement. It was unclear how soon Barr would be confirmed, but senators 
said it could happen as soon as next week.

   Whitaker took the job in November after Trump pushed out Attorney General 
Jeff Sessions. Trump had repeatedly criticized Sessions for recusing himself 
from Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential 
election, which is examining ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. Trump 
calls the probe a "witch hunt."

   Nadler has criticized Whitaker for not recusing himself from the Mueller 
probe as Sessions did. He said last month that Whitaker's decision appeared to 
be "to satisfy President Trump and not to protect the integrity of the 
department or its ongoing work."

   Beyond the criticism about his comments on the Russia probe, critics have 
raised questions about Whitaker's involvement with a company that was accused 
of misleading consumers. In addition, he has faced scrutiny over whether he 
violated federal law because a campaign committee set up for his failed 2014 
U.S. Senate bid accepted $8,800 in donations this year, while Whitaker was 
serving as a top Justice Department lawyer.


(KA)

 
 
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