Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesFormer Bad Boy rapper turned politician meets with US lawmakers Watch live: House Democratic leaders hold press conference Congressional staff pay is still too low MORE (D-N.Y.) in one of the more pointed moments of a testy hearing on Friday questioned how Matthew Whitaker became President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE's acting attorney general.
"I'm confused. I really am. We're all trying to figure out, who are you? Where did you come from?" Jeffries, a member of Democratic House leadership seen as a possible future Speaker, asked Whitaker during the House Judiciary Committee hearing.
"And how the heck did you become the head of the Department of Justice?" Jeffries stated. "Hopefully you can help me work through this confusion."
"I assume you know the difference," he said.
It was just the latest confrontational moment of the hearing, one of the first to center on special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE's investigation and the legal controversies swirling around Trump since Democrats took over the House.
Whitaker is seen as a Trump loyalist, and he is expected to be replaced as attorney general as soon as William Barr wins confirmation in the Senate. Barr is a former attorney general from former President George H.W. Bush's administration.
Whitaker took the post when Trump fired former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE, who had recused himself from overseeing the Russia investigation — earning Trump's wrath in the process.
Jeffries listed former Trump campaign aides who have pleaded guilty in Mueller's probe, naming former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDOJ investigating one-time Trump campaign adviser over alleged ties to Qatar: report Foreign lobbyists donated over M during 2020 election: report Former Mueller prosecutor representing Donoghue in congressional probes: report MORE, the president's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and his longtime adviser Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneRoger Stone served with Capitol riot lawsuit during radio interview Lawyer for 17 Jan. 6 defendants says he's been released from hospital Democrats' Jan. 6 subpoena-palooza sets dangerous precedent MORE.
"Manafort, Gates, Flynn, Cohen, Papadopoulos and Stone are all in deep trouble. One by one, all of the president's men are going down in flames," Jeffries said.
"It is often said where there is smoke, there's fire. There's a lot of smoke emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. right now."
He also issued a stark warning that Whitaker should not to interfere in Mueller's investigation during his final days as the DOJ's top cop.
"In your final week, keep your hands off the Mueller investigation," Jeffries told Whitaker emphatically, ending his line of questioning with a statement.
"The investigation into Russia's attack on our democracy is not a witch hunt. It's not a fishing expedition. It's not a hoax. It's not a lynch mob. It's a national security. The fact that people suggest otherwise comes dangerously close to providing aid and comfort to the enemy," he added.