The House Judiciary Committee is demanding the testimony of acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker by January 29, despite the continued partial government shutdown. The news came in the form of a letter sent to Whitaker by chairman Jerrold Nadler on Wednesday.
In the letter, Nadler rejects Whitaker’s proposal to testify before the committee “on February 12, 2019 or February 13, 2019.” Whitaker’s proposal added that he would testify on those dates “so long as the Department is at least two weeks removed from a partial government shutdown.”
The House Committee of the Judiciary rejected the proposal, writing, “We are willing to work with you to identify a mutual identifiable date for your testimony, but we will not allow that date to slip past January 29, 2019.
Nadler and other committee members want the acting attorney general to testify on a number of matters. Those include legislation involving the Department of Justice that addresses “voting rights, immigration, gun violence, the Violence Against Women Act, and foreign influence on the federal government.” They also wish to question Whitaker about several comments made by President Trump and his administration. Those include “several recent efforts by the Administration that could have the effect of weakening federal protections for civil rights,” according to the letter.
Also, Nadler and the committee have said they will “discuss the impact of [the] President’s near-daily statements attacking the integrity of the Department of Justice, the FBI, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.”
Nadler’s letter added that, during a phone call in November, Whitaker apparently agreed to testify before the committee in January. The Representative added that the Office of Legal Counsel determined in 1995 that the Department of Justice can continue activities during a partial government shutdown, including “providing testimony at hearings if the Department’s participation is necessary for the hearing to be effective.”
According to Nadler, Matt Whitaker’s presence is indeed necessary to the hearing. He added that “some of the most critical questions my colleagues may ask concern the impact of the shutdown on Department operations and personnel.”
The hearing has been set for January 29, the day of President Trump’s State of the Union address. The reason? Nadler knows Whitaker will be in Washington, D.C. for the event.