Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker reminded the head of the House Judiciary Committee that his allotted time for questioning had expired, drawing astonished reactions from those in attendance.
Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), who has in the past floated impeachment of the President, engaged Whitaker in a fiery line of questioning that involved repeated attempts to question the acting AG whether or not he had been briefed on the Mueller probe after he had recused himself from overseeing the investigation.
Whitaker kept asking Nadler the basis for the question while the Chairman repeatedly interrupted him.
“Now, in your capacity as acting attorney general, have you ever been asked to approve any request or action to be taken by the special counsel?” Nadler then asked.
Exasperated, Whitaker said, “Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up,” leading to several gasps, groans, and laughs throughout the chamber. Even Nadler seemed amused.
Nadler asks Whitaker if he’s been asked to approve any of Mueller’s moves.
Whitaker: “Mr Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up I’m here voluntarily I agreed to five-minute rounds”
Gasps in the room
— Betsy Woodruff (@woodruffbets) February 8, 2019
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) February 8, 2019
Whitaker, it would seem, was not joking.
“I am here voluntarily,” he said. “We have agreed to five-minute rounds.”
Breach of Protocol
Some lawmakers were left with their mouths agape at the audacity of the acting AG calling out a committee member for going over their time limit.
— Olivia Beavers (@Olivia_Beavers) February 8, 2019
“The committee will come to order,” Nadler responded. “I will point out we didn’t enforce the five-minute rule on acting attorney general Whitaker.”
The rarity of a witness to point out that lawmakers had overrun their time is what left many Democrats shocked at Whitaker’s statement.
“Mr. Chairman, I see that your 5 minutes are up,” Whitaker says to Nadler, trying to cut him off. A witness never does that to a chairman. Dems shocked
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 8, 2019
“It is very unusual for a witness to mention the time limit, and even more so for a witness to accuse the chairman of a panel to have gone over his time limit,” Olivia Beavers of The Hill wrote.
“Have you been asked to approve or disapprove a request or action to be taken by the Special Counsel?” Nadler would repeat.
“I have not interfered in any way with the special counsel’s investigation,” Whitaker ultimately responded.