Appearing before a fiery House judiciary committee Friday, Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker clashed with members eager to question President Trump's interim top cop.
Whitaker insists he has followed rules "to a T" in overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. Pressed by Democrats, the acting attorney general testified he had never "interfered in any way" with a probe his boss has often labeled a "witch hunt."
"At no time has the White House asked for, nor have I provided any promises or commitments, concerning the special counsel investigation," Whitaker declared before the committee.
But Whitaker's testimony before the committee, the latest in House Democrats' campaign to probe the president and his administration, is unlikely to satisfy Democrats suspicious that President Trump still seeks to neuter the probe. Despite William Barr's own pledges to protect Mueller, the president's pick to succeed Whitaker has similarly polarized a Senate now moving to confirm him.
Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, negotiators are working furiously this week to avert another partial government shutdown. With days dwindling before a looming Feb. 15 funding lapse, Democratic leaders called on President Trump to support any bipartisan deal to emerge out of the talks. But despite the president's gestures towards bipartisanship at his State of the Union address Tuesday, White House allies remain skeptical.
"I'm not optimistic it'll be something the president can support," House Freedom Caucus chair Mark Meadows predicted Friday.
Across the Potomac, Virginians are still reeling from stunning blackface and sexual assault scandals that have engulfed the commonwealth's leadership. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, and Attorney General Mark Herring have shown little interest in stepping down. And Democrats nationwide have struggled to navigate a torrent of calls demanding consequences for the trio and the emergence of a new Fairfax accuser on Friday.
And after warning that "we'll come back if we have to," in an interview with Margaret Brennan, President Trump called on allies to help the U.S. check the "demented" remnants of ISIS in Syria following his promised troop drawdown there.
President Trump has fought to reassure allies in the wake of planned pullouts from both Syria and Afghanistan, and his controversial promise in a "Face the Nation" interview that American forces would remain in Iraq "to watch Iran."
"'Death to America' means death to Trump and John Bolton and Pompeo," Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Friday as the nation marks the 40th anniversary of its Islamic Revolution.
The Iranian people will "not stop saying 'death to America' as long as the U.S. acts malicious," Khamenei added.
Key Saudi diplomat Adel al-Jubeir (@AdelAljubeir), the kingdom's minister of state for foreign affairs, met this week with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. We'll hear from him.
We'll sit down with Rep. Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows), R-N.C., chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
Virginia Democratic Reps. Jennifer Wexton (@RepWexton) and Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) have both called for their state's Gov. Ralph Northam and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax to resign. We'll sit down with each of them.
We'll hear from CBS News Foreign Correspondent Charlie D'Agata (@charliecbs), on the ground for the final fight against the ISIS caliphate in Syria.
And as always, we'll seek some perspective from our panel:
- Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) of The New York Times
- Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) of National Review and The Los Angeles Times
- Ed O'Keefe (@edokeefe) of CBS News
- Margaret Talev (@margarettalev) of Bloomberg News
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