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 JayapalLawmakers urge DNC to name Asian American debate moderator Medicare for all: fears and facts House Democrats urge Trump to end deportations of Iraqis after diabetic man's death MORE (D-Wash.) said in an interview Thursday.

Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerSecond Democrat representing Trump district backs impeachment GOP memo deflects some gun questions to 'violence from the left' House Democrats urge Trump to end deportations of Iraqis after diabetic man's death 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) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony 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 SessionsDOJ should take action against China's Twitter propaganda Lewandowski says he's 'happy' to testify before House panel The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE recused himself from the probe. President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president 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 CrawfordRichard (Rick) CrawfordRepublican Congressman: DNI Nominee committed to declassification transparency The Hill's Morning Report - Attacked repeatedly, Biden fires back Politicians cheer USWNT over defeating England, qualifying for World Cup final MORE (Ark.) told Hill.TV.

Iowa Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters Steve King says 'left-wing media' and GOP leadership owe him apology after rape, incest comments 11 Essential reads you missed this week 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