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 JayapalOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — House Dems advance drug pricing bill | Cases of vaping-related lung illnesses near 1,500 | Juul suspends sales of most e-cigarette flavors Warren faces tougher sell with 'Medicare for All' Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Buttigieg targets Warren, Sanders on health care ahead of debate | Judge overturns ObamaCare transgender protections | Poll sees support drop for 'Medicare for All' MORE (D-Wash.) said in an interview Thursday.

Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerDem committee chairs blast Trump G-7 announcement Top Democrat holds moment of silence for Cummings at hearing Barr to speak at Notre Dame law school on Friday 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 MuellerFox News legal analyst says Trump call with Ukraine leader could be 'more serious' than what Mueller 'dragged up' Lewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network 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 SessionsTrump attacks Sessions: A 'total disaster' and 'an embarrassment to the great state of Alabama' Ocasio-Cortez fires back at Washington Times after story on her 'high-dollar hairdo' Trump's tirades, taunts and threats are damaging our democracy MORE recused himself from the probe. President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocratic senator rips Trump's 'let them fight' remarks: 'Enough is enough' Warren warns Facebook may help reelect Trump 'and profit off of it' Trump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' 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 KingIowa Steak Fry to draw record crowds for Democrats Ocasio-Cortez rips Steve King after he shares video drinking from toilet-fountain hybrid at border Steve King says he drank from toilet at detention center 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