Judiciary Dem asks Whitaker: 'How the heck did you become the head of the Department of Justice?'

Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine - Will there be any last-minute shutdown drama? Congress hits gas on border deal Trump: 'Shutdown would be a terrible thing' MORE (D-N.Y.) in one of the more pointed moments of a testy hearing on Friday questioned how Matthew Whitaker became President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery 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."

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When Whitaker began to respond, Jeffries promptly cut him off and chided: "That was a statement, not a question."

"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 Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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 SessionsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight The Memo: Trump and McCabe go to war McCabe book: Sessions once said FBI was better off when it 'only hired Irishmen' 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 ManafortMueller recommends Manafort serve at least 19 years in prison The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears CNN's Toobin: 'Almost unrecognizable' Manafort 'in danger of losing his life' in prison MORE, the president's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and his longtime adviser Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneNew filing suggests Mueller has evidence Stone communicated with WikiLeaks Judge in Roger Stone case restricts public comments Stone takes shot at Mueller's office in new filing 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.