When Acting Attorney Generalappears before the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee next month, Democrats will have a slew of questions for him. And newly minted House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler wants to make sure Whitaker can't easily avoid answering those questions at the last minute.
Nadler wrote to Whitaker Tuesday and outlined the things he intends to ask him on Feb. 8, when Whitaker will appear before the full committee for questioning about his handling of the Justice Department and interactions with the president. Nadler instructed Whitaker to give him 48 hours' notice if Mr. Trump plans to invoke executive privilege on any of the questions. Nadler told Whitaker he was giving him questions in advance "because your responses may implicate communications with the president of the United States."
"Please take any steps that may be necessary for the White House to consider these communications and for the president to determine whether he will invoke executive privilege," Nadler wrote. "The committee will not accept your declining to answer any questions on the theory that the president may want to invoke his privileges in the future."
In the letter, Nadler informed Whitaker he wants to ask about his decision not to recuse himself from the special counsel's investigation, whether he has ever been briefed on the special counsel's investigation, whether Mr. Trump contacted him about former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, and whether Mr. Trump ever talked about firing or reassigning personnel in the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, among other things.
Nadler also told Whitaker that he would "view with considerable skepticism any effort to decline to answer on the basis that the inquiry is related to an ongoing criminal investigation."
Whitaker, who assumed the acting attorney general post after Mr. Trump forced out Sessions, made critical statements of Mueller's investigation before joining the Justice Department, prompting concern from Trump skeptics. Whitaker has been overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation until a new attorney general is confirmed. Trump nomineeunderwent his confirmation hearing last week, although he still needs to be approved by the Senate judiciary panel and the full Senate.