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 JayapalBiden leads 2020 pack in congressional endorsements Des Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders says it's 'disappointing' he's not on campaign trail in Iowa MORE (D-Wash.) said in an interview Thursday.

Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerNadler to miss a day of impeachment trial due to wife's cancer treatment Impeachment manager dismisses concerns Schiff alienated key Republican votes: 'This isn't about any one person' Trump defense team signals focus on Schiff 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 MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay 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 SessionsLawmaker wants Chinese news outlet to register as foreign agent Trump-aligned group launches ad campaign hitting Doug Jones on impeachment ICE subpoenas Denver law enforcement: report MORE recused himself from the probe. President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump denies telling Bolton Ukraine aid was tied to investigations Former senior Senate GOP aide says Republicans should call witnesses Title, release date revealed for Bolton memoir 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) CrawfordThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry House Republicans add Jordan to Intel panel for impeachment probe Republican Congressman: DNI Nominee committed to declassification transparency MORE (Ark.) told Hill.TV.

Iowa Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingNebraska Democratic Party Chair: Rural vote should be 'bedrock' of party With surge in anti-Semitism, political leaders need to be aggressive and reflective in response Steve King challenger: 2020 Democrats have 'huge' opportunity to win over rural America 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