Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee during a hearing scheduled for Friday, Feb. 8. To compel his attendance, Democratic committee chair Jerry Nadler threatened him with a subpoena as well.
But former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), now a Fox News contributor, said Whitaker should simply ignore the committee’s threat and blow off the scheduled testimony.
The Democratic-controlled committee wants to ask Whitaker about a number of issues, mostly related to President Donald Trump, special counsel Robert Mueller and recusal from specific cases. But given that Whitaker is only the “acting” attorney general serving temporarily until Attorney General nominee William Barr can be confirmed, Gowdy said there’s no reason for Whitaker to bother showing up.
Fox host Martha MacCallum asked Gowdy why Nadler would threaten Whitaker with a subpoena, given that he already agreed to come.
“Number one, so you and I would be talking about it and others would be talking about it — the acting AG being under subpoena,” said Gowdy. “Number two, it does compel attendance, but Matt’s already said he’s coming.”
“Thirdly and importantly, what I don’t think your viewers know, is that when Matt says ‘I can’t answer that question because it’s privileged’ or ‘I can’t answer that question because it’s an ongoing investigation,’ if you’re under subpoena, it makes it much easier for the committee to compel you to answer,” he explained.
“That’s why they’re doing it. They’re not worried about him showing up — he’s already said he’s coming,” added Gowdy.
One week left
“Although, Martha, I hope he doesn’t. He’s going to be the AG for another week,” Gowdy added.
“He’s got about another week, so he’s certainly not going to talk about his vision for the Department of Justice,” he continued. “He can’t talk about Mueller. He can’t talk about (Deputy Attorney General Rod) Rosenstein. He can’t talk about any ongoing investigation, and he can’t talk about any communications he’s had with the president. So what’s he going to talk about? He’s not going to be there in a week.”
Gowdy admitted that Whitaker had access to better legal advice than he could provide, but suggested jokingly, “I think I’d have a cold Friday, if I were him, and then by this time next week, Bill Barr will have been confirmed and he can come and answer all of Jerry Nadler’s questions,” he added. “But Whitaker’s got, what, a week left on the job?”
While Whitaker declined to take Gowdy’s advice, it sure would have been interesting to see how the Democrats would have reacted to such defiance.