Judiciary Democrats want Whitaker to testify in 2019

Acting Attorney General Matt WhitakerMatthew G WhitakerEx-federal prosecutor: 'Thank God' Whitaker is gone, Barr will bring 'integrity' back to DOJ GOP pollster says Dems are relitigating 2016 election with investigations of Trump Former senior FBI official calls Whitaker hearing ‘disgraceful’ MORE can expect an invitation to testify before the House Judiciary Committee early next year, a Democratic lawmaker on the panel tells Hill.TV.

“We will be having Matt Whitaker in, I think, as one of our first moves in the majority,” Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalDemocrats fear US already lost COVID-19 battle Progressive lawmakers call for conditions on Israel aid Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down MORE (D-Wash.) said in an interview Thursday.

Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerNadler wins Democratic primary Voters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November Clyburn threatens to end in-person coronavirus committee hearings if Republicans won't wear masks MORE (D-N.Y.), the ranking member and likely next chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has previously made similar comments.

Jayapal made the statement shortly after reports indicated that Whitaker would be required to recuse himself from overseeing Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s probe into Russian election interference, despite his previous criticism of the same investigation.

"I think we have serious concerns about conflicts of interest, things that he’s said in the past that clearly raise issues about whether he can supervise an investigation that he never believed in to start with,” Jayapal explained.

But several GOP lawmakers said that Whitaker should not recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation and pointed to the challenges that posed when former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard Sessions Senate outlook slides for GOP Supreme Court blocks order that relaxed voting restrictions in Alabama Justice Dept. considering replacing outgoing US attorney in Brooklyn with Barr deputy: report MORE recused himself from the probe. President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Anderson Cooper: Trump's Bubba Wallace tweet was 'racist, just plain and simple' Beats by Dre announces deal with Bubba Wallace, defends him after Trump remarks Overnight Defense: DOD reportedly eyeing Confederate flag ban | House military spending bill blocks wall funding MORE frequently criticized Sessions for the decision.

“It’s the president's choice to put [Whitaker] in that position and I think we saw what happened last time when there was recusal - it kind of threw things into disarray – and kind of got us to the point where we are now with regard to the Russia collusion investigation,” GOP Rep. Rick CrawfordRick CrawfordRepublicans score procedural victory on Democrats' infrastructure bill The case for renewed US engagement in Latin America Arkansas program that places unemployed guards, reservists in agriculture jobs can be a model for nation MORE (Ark.) told Hill.TV.

Iowa Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingColorado GOP Rep. Scott Tipton defeated in primary upset Bottom line House GOP leaders condemn candidate who said black people should be 'proud' of Confederate statues MORE (R), who called Whitaker a “stellar” person who he has “known for a long time,” praised the ethics office advisory.

"Matt Whitaker doesn't have any reason to recuse himself other than he's criticized by a handful of Democrats - that's for political reasons not for legal reasons - and Matt Whitaker will see that clearly,” King said.

For his part, King believes that the investigation “is tearing America apart” and looks “strung out and time for it to end.”

Asked if Whitaker has the authority to put a “date certain” by which the inquiry should end, King acknowledged “I think he has the authority to do that - I don’t know if it’s politically the right thing for him to do that and it’s more of a political question than it is a legal one.”

“I’ve not talked to him about that and I’m not suggesting one way or the other - that’s something [Whitaker] would have to decide,” King added.

— Molly K. Hooper