Thursday night the acting head of the United States Justice Department (DoJ)—President Donald Trump's interim appointee for Attorney General Matt Whitaker—agreed to appear before the House Judiciary Committee.
Whitaker was called to answer questions about his involvement in the DoJ ordered investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible cooperation by members of the Trump campaign. Whitaker's appointment drew immediate questions about his planned involvement in the investigation led by DoJ appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller based on prior statements Whitaker made.
While the DoJ emphasized Whitaker volunteered to appear at the congressional hearing, the agreement was made under the condition he would not be subpoenaed to testify.
But his testimony was less than cooperative once the hearing began.
One clip, in particular, set Twitter ablaze, when Chairman Jerry Nadler asked Whitaker whether he has "ever been asked to approve any request or action to be taken by the Special Counsel."
And Whitaker replied:
"Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up."
Twitter wasn't the only thing to light up at the acting Attorney General's comment, the hearing room's audible reaction of disbelief was evident as well.
Watch the exchange here:
Representative Nadler was unable to contain his amusement at Whitaker's attempt to avoid answering his question and to control the House Judiciary hearing.
Whitaker also decided to try again with Texas Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee. But Jackson Lee reminded the acting AG of where he was and to whom he was speaking.
People found Whitaker's attitude and testimony troubling.
In the print copy of Whitaker's opening remarks provided to the press by the DoJ, Whitaker planned to claim "the vast majority of the illegal drugs in this country is coming over our Southern border, a pattern that is true for all crimes." However actual law enforcement statistics, coming from the Department of Justice, do not support Whitaker's claims.
People expected Whitaker to get pushback on his false claims. And he did from Republican Representative Louis Buller Gohmert Jr. of Texas.
People took exception with Whitaker's responses to members of Congress.
Including pointing out hypocrisy in Whitaker's own testimony, first stating he could not comment on an open investigation when asked about his involvement with Special Counsel Mueller, then commenting on an open investigation of the FBI and DoJ.
And some thought Whitaker's response and uncooperative nature warranted a subpoena from Congress.
In his opening remarks, House Judiciary Committee Chair Nadler stated:
"In my view, your conduct, Mr. Whitaker—including your decision to ignore important ethics advice when you became acting Attorney General, no matter the consequences—your conduct, sir, falls well short of the mark."
The congressional hearing is ongoing.