Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker will testify as planned before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday, Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said.
“CONFIRMED: Acting Attorney General Whitaker will appear tomorrow morning at 9:30am,” Nadler announced on Twitter Thursday evening.
The development came shortly after Nadler sent a letter to Whitaker saying there would be “no need” for the committee to subpoena him if he appeared before the panel as scheduled and is prepared to respond to questions.
Whitaker had agreed to testify publicly before the committee last month on Feb. 8. However, his appearance was abruptly called into question on Thursday after the Democrat-led panel voted to authorize a subpoena to ensure his appearance, in the case he declined to show up or answer certain questions by citing executive privilege.
Whitaker said later Thursday that he would not testify unless the committee’s chairman withdrew the subpoena threat. The acting attorney general requested that Nadler commit to not issuing the subpoena in the next two days and to engaging in “good faith negotiations.”
“Such unprecedented action breaches our prior agreement and circumvents the constitutionally required accommodation process,” Whitaker said. “Based upon today’s action, it is apparent that the Committee’s true intention is not to discuss the great work of the Department of Justice, but to create a public spectacle.”
Nadler’s letter later on Thursday evening appeared to be an effort to diffuse the battle over his testimony.
“If you appear before the Committee tomorrow morning and if you are prepared to respond to questions from our Members, then I assure you that there will be no need for the Committee to issue a subpoena on or before February 8,” Nadler wrote.
“To the extent that you believe you are unable to fully respond to any specific question, we are prepared to handle your concerns on a case-by-case basis, both during and after tomorrow’s hearing,” Nadler added.
Whitaker’s testimony Friday is expected to be explosive. Whitaker has been a flashpoint of controversy since Trump tapped him to helm the Justice Department in November, following Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump, Democrats clash over probes Hillicon Valley: House Intel panel will release Russia interviews | T-Mobile, Sprint step up merger push | DHS cyber office hosting webinars on China | Nest warns customers to shore up password security House Intel panel votes to release Russia interview transcripts to Mueller MORE’ ouster. Whitaker has particularly been scrutinized for his past criticism of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s investigation, over which he has oversight now as the top Justice Department official.
Whitaker is likely to face a barrage of questions from Democrats on his oversight of the investigation as well as his communications with the White House.
In a five-page letter to Nadler Thursday in response to the subpoena threat, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd noted Whitaker would not go into detail about his communications with President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump to lead new White House global women’s empowerment initiative Father says he traveled to Canada for son’s medicine that would cost K in US Clinton: Trump’s decision to suspend nuclear treaty with Russia ‘a gift to Putin’ MORE during the hearing.