Matthew Whitaker Faced Grilling on Capitol Hill

Chip Somodevilla  Getty Images North America

Chip Somodevilla Getty Images North America

And Democrats made no bones about letting him know they were in charge now.

As expected, tensions were high throughout the almost six-hour hearing.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, appointed after Jeff Sessions resigned a year ago, was grilled by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee on Friday about whether his appointment was made to protect Trump from Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation.

Whitaker is the first top Trump administration official to testify before Congress since Democrats won control of the House in the November midterm elections.

"I will not allow the witness to stall and waste members' time", Nadler said.

Its likely too early to discern the implications of these revelations.

Whitaker faced most scrutiny during the hearing over why he was chosen by Trump to head the Justice Department, rather than the normal line of succession rules being followed. Barr is widely expected to be confirmed. Whitaker's exchanges with House Democrats sometimes got heated.

Before he became Sessions' Chief of Staff, Whitaker argued Mueller was close to overstepping his boundaries.

He also testified he had taken no actions related to the probe.

Trump insists there was "no collusion" between his campaign and Russian Federation, although there is no federal crime of collusion.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday to testify about oversight of the Justice Department.

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Jayapal was speaking to Joy Reid on MSNBC about a contentious interaction she had with acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker over family separations at the border.

Until Friday, it was not clear-cut how this power would explicitly manifest itself.

Under questioning from Rep. Andy Biggs, an Arizona Republican, Whitaker said that he believed Rosenstein was not serious when he discussed wearing a wire to secretly record Trump in order to sway members of his Cabinet and remove the President from office in spring 2017, in the days after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.

Republicans dismissed the hearing with Whitaker as a political stunt and moved to end it before it began.

He did draw gasps, however, when he told Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler, "Your five minutes are up".

Nadler cracked a smile, but he was unfazed.

"At no time has the White House asked for nor have I provided any promises or commitments concerning the special counsel investigation or any other investigation", Whitaker said in his opening remarks.

Democrats expressed dissatisfaction with Whitaker's testimony, with Nadler concluding the hearing by telling Whitaker he is planning to call him back for an interview, by subpoena if necessary.

"It's shocking how nervous and unsure of himself Whitaker appears to be", Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, wrote in an e-mail to TIME.

U.S. Rep. Val Demings said the acting attorney general was "making a mockery" of criminal justice by deflecting questions about whether he ever discussed any criminal investigation involving President Trump with the president himself.

There were other ways that Democrats' power was on display.

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