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 JayapalCentrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage push Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage push Overnight Health Care: Democratic bill would require insurance to cover OTC birth control | House Dems vote to overturn ban on fetal tissue research | New rule aims to expand health choices for small businesses MORE (D-Wash.) said in an interview Thursday.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (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 MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump 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 SessionsSarah Sanders to leave White House Sarah Sanders to leave White House Barr compares his return to DOJ to D-Day invasion MORE recused himself from the probe. President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' 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) CrawfordHouse Intel to take first major deep dive into threat of 'deepfakes' House Intel to take first major deep dive into threat of 'deepfakes' The 23 Republicans who voted against the anti-hate resolution MORE (Ark.) told Hill.TV.

Iowa Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingThe Hill's Morning Report — Uproar after Trump's defense of foreign dirt on candidates The Hill's Morning Report — Uproar after Trump's defense of foreign dirt on candidates Steve King unveils 'Diamond and Silk Act' named for conservative YouTubers 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