Whitaker returning to Capitol Hill to clarify testimony

Matthew Whitaker, appointed acting Attorney General of the United States following the departure of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Photo Date: 11/7/2018 / Photo: CNN / (MGN)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is returning to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to clarify his testimony on his communications with President Donald Trump and other matters.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said after Whitaker's public testimony in February that his answers were "unsatisfactory, incomplete or contradicted by other evidence." In a letter sent to the Justice Department, Nadler said Whitaker didn't offer clear responses about his communications with the White House and was inconsistent about what questions he refused to answer.

Nadler asked Whitaker to return to the committee to clarify those answers, and he will meet behind closed doors Wednesday afternoon with Nadler and the committee's top Republican, Georgia Rep. Doug Collins.

Whitaker left the Justice Department after Attorney General William Barr was confirmed Feb. 14. But Democrats say they still have questions for the man they perceived as a Trump loyalist and whose appointment they suspect was aimed at suppressing investigations of the Republican president.

At the hearing held while Whitaker was still acting attorney general, the Democrats confronted him on his past criticism of special counsel Robert Mueller's work and his refusal to recuse himself from overseeing it, attacked him over his prior business dealings and challenged his credentials as the country's chief law enforcement officer.

In the letter sent afterward, Nadler highlighted Whitaker's response when asked whether Trump had "lashed out" at him after Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress and campaign finance violations. News reports said Trump did lash out at Whitaker, but Whitaker said he did not.

Nadler said the committee "has identified several individuals with direct knowledge of the phone calls you denied receiving" from the White House.

"As a result, we require your clarification on this point without delay," Nadler wrote.

He said Whitaker was also inconsistent on whether he had discussed Mueller's Russia investigation with the president, or with anyone at the White House or in Trump's circle, before Whitaker worked at the Justice Department. He said he did not, but also noted he had interviewed to be a White House counsel dealing with the Russia probe.

Nadler said that claim was made "somewhat incredulously."

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