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Frustration erupts on both sides at Whitaker’s House testimony

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker insisted Friday he hasn’t “interfered in any way” in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. His much-anticipated testimony came before a contentious hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, now led by Democrats. Lisa Desjardins reports.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker insisted today that he hasn't interfered in any way in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

    His much-anticipated testimony came during an oversight hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, now controlled by Democrats.

    Lisa Desjardins reports.

  • Matthew Whitaker:

    Congresswoman, I am the acting attorney general.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The temporary head of the Department of Justice faced a long-building barrage from House Democrats.

  • Matthew Whitaker:

    Congresswoman, I have not…

  • Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.:

    The Witness will answer the question as asked, please.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The focus? Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, and whether the DOJ ever tried to help President Trump or tried to target him.

  • Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas:

    Did you discuss or share your private opinions of the special counsel investigation with the chief of staff, Trump family members, and others?

  • Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio:

    Did Rod Rosenstein give the special counsel the authority to investigate specific Americans?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Whitaker, who oversees Mueller's investigation, insisted he has done it by the book.

  • Matthew Whitaker:

    There has been no event, no decision that has required me to take any action, and I have not interfered in any way with the special counsel's investigation.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Democrats pressed on whether he's talked to the president.

  • Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.:

    It's a yes-or-no question. Have you communicated anything you learned in that briefing about the investigation to President Trump, yes or no?

  • Matthew Whitaker:

    As I said today in my opening remarks, I do not intend today to talk about my private conversations with the president of the United States. But to answer your question, I have not talked to the president of the United States about the special counsel's investigation.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Meanwhile, some Republicans openly bristled.

  • Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas:

    We started this hearing at 9:30 this morning. It's now 12:30 in the afternoon, and I haven't seen you field a single question from the other side of the aisle about any of the enforcement priorities of the Department of Justice.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Whitaker may not be in the hot seat much longer. The nominee to permanently run Justice, William Barr, could be confirmed next week.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Lisa Desjardins.

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