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Acting AG Testifies, But Says He Won't Discuss Talks With Trump. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired February 8, 2019 - 10:00   ET



MATTHEW WHITAKER, ACTING UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: Right? Working with the FBI at the strategic information and operation center. Over my time as Acting Attorney General, I have done everything in my power to continue regular order at the Department of Justice. The department has continued to make its law enforcement decisions based upon the facts and the law of each individual case in accordance with established department practices, and independent of any outside interference. At no time has the White House asked for nor have I provided any promises, or commitments concerning the Special Counsel's investigation, or any other investigation. Since becoming acting Attorney General, I have run the Department of Justice with fidelity to the law and to the Constitution.

During my time as the leader of the Department of Justice, the Department has complied with the Special Counsel Regulations, and there has been no change in how the department has worked with the Special Counsel's Office. Over the past day, the department and the committee have exchanged letters concerning the respective prerogatives of the legislative and executive branches. I am pleased that we are able to reach an agreement that allows me to appear here voluntarily. I am pleased also, that we agreed that each branch would seek to accommodate each other, and that if we have differences, we'll try to work them out in good faith before we resorting to subpoenas, or other former full formal legal processes.

I will answer the committee's questions as best I can, but I will continue the long-standing executive branch practice of not disclosing information that may be subject to executive privilege, such as the contents of conversations with the president. As the Supreme Court has recognized, this executive privilege is fundamental to the operation of government and inextricably rooted in the separation of powers under the Constitution.

I have spent nearly one-third of my professional career at the Department of Justice, and I am personally committed to its success and integrity. I hope that today's hearing will be constructive and help us partner together to address the priorities of the American people. The men and women of this department are proud of our accomplishments, but we know that Congress can help us to achieve even more. And, as our agents and our prosecutors have shown you again and again, they deserve your support.

Thank you once again for the opportunity to testify today, and for your attention to the matters facing the Department of Justice.

JERROLD NADLER, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Thank you for your testimony. We will now proceed under the five-minute rule with questions. I will begin by recognizing myself for five minutes. Now, we fully intend to examine substantive questions of the department's policy, but part of our job is to make sure that core investigations at the department have not been compromised.

So, at a press conference last week sir, you said that you have been fully briefed on the Special Counsel's investigation. I would like to better understand that comment. Yes or no, since your appointment as Acting Attorney General, have you been briefed on criminal, or counter-intelligence matters within the Special Counsel's purview?

WHITAKER: Chairman, thank you for that question. As you know, I cannot talk about ongoing investigations.

NADLER: But, you can say whether you've been briefed or not.

WHITAKER: And, as you comment about my recent press conference as it relates to the special conference, the Special Counsel's investigation I have been briefed on.

NADLER: Thanks. So, it yes. Thank you. Were you briefed on those matters at any point while you were serving as Chief of Staff to Attorney General Sessions.

WHITAKER: Chairman, I know you're very interested in the Special Counsel's investigation, and so, I want to be very clear about this, because General Sessions was recused from the Special Counsel's investigation. I was-- had no involvement in the Special Counsel.

NADLER: So, the answer is no. Thank you. How many times were you briefed about the Special Counsel's work, and when did the briefings take place?

WHITAKER: Mr. chairman, I've said all that I'm planning on saying about the number of times, or the briefings that I received on Special Counsel's investigation. It is the subject matter of an ongoing investigation. I think it would be very improper for me as I sit here today--

NADLER: Wait. Whether you were briefed as a subject of an ongoing investigation, I didn't follow that.

WHITAKER: The number of times I've been briefed in my involvement in the investigation, sir.

NADLER: Well, it's our understanding that at least one briefing occurred in December before your decision not to recuse yourself on December 19th and Christmas Day, is that correct?

WHITAKER: What's the basis for that question, sir.

NADLER: Yes or no. Is it correct?

WHITAKER: I mean, I--

NADLER: It is our understanding that one at least one brief occurred between December, between your decision not to recuse yourself on December 19th, and six days later Christmas Day. Is that correct simple enough question, yes or no?


WHITAKER: Mr. Chairman, I again, what is the basis for your question? You're saying that it is your right--

NADLER: I'm asking the questions, they only have five minutes. So, please answer, yes or no.

WHITAKER: No, Mr. Chairman, I am going to-- I don't know-- You were asking me a question, it is your understanding. Can you tell me where you get them?

NADLER: No, I'm not going to tell you that. I don't have time to get into that. I'm just asking you if that's correct or not. Is it correct? Were you briefed in that time period between December 19th and Christmas Day? A simple question, yes or no.

WHITAKER: Congressman, if every member here today asked questions based on their mere speculation-- Without the actual basis for the question, it is very difficult to answer.

NADLER: All right. Never mind. At any point, yes or no, yes or no, at any point since that briefing, have you communicated any information you learned in that briefing to President Trump.

WHITAKER: Mr. Chairman, I know that there is a uniqueness to special interest in this.

NADLER: It's a yes or no question.

WHITAKER: I'm sorry.

NADLER: It's a yes or no question. Have you communicated anything you learned in that briefing about the investigation to President Trump, yes or no?

WHITAKER: Mr. Chairman, as I've said earlier today in my opening remarks, I do not intend today to talk about my private conversations with the President of the United States, but to answer your question, I have not talked to the President of the United States about the Special Counsel's investigation.

NADLER: So, the answer's no. Thank you. To any other White House official?

WHITAKER: Again Mr. Chairman, as I mentioned in my opening statement, I do not intend today to talk about my private conversations with the president nor White House officials, but I will tell you, consistent with about what I've already said, I have not talked about the Special Counsel's investigation with senior White House officials. NADLER: OK. To any third party not already briefed about the Special Counsel's investigation who might have conveyed that information to the president or his legal team?

WHITAKER: Who do you consider third party individual?

NADLER: Well, it's really for your consideration. So, any third party not already briefed about that investigation who might have conveyed, who you think might have conveyed, that information to President Trump or his legal team.

WHITAKER: Who I-- Third persons who I think may have conveyed that formation.


WHITAKER: You know, as I sit here in this chair, right now Mr. Chairman, you know, I don't-- that's an impossible question for me to ask. I mean, I do not believe that I have briefed third party individuals outside of the Department of Justice. I have received the briefings myself, and I am usually the end point of that information.

NADLER: But you won't answer the question.

WHITAKER: I just did answer your question.

NADLER: I don't think you did, but let me just say this. Your iteration of the department's long-standing policy appears designed to delay answering these questions as long as possible. I find that unacceptable. I understand the role of executive privilege and respect this value in our system of governance. However, Congress is a co-equal branch of government. We have a responsibility to conduct oversight. This is a responsibility we take very seriously. I've repeatedly tried to work with your office first, and delaying the hearing until February. And then, in providing you our questions in advance.

I did this because the Executive Branch's own rules governing assertion of privilege, which were issued by President Reagan, and have been followed ever since, say that ultimately it is up to the president to decide whether or not he wants to assert executive privilege. You cannot repeat forever that the president might want to assert privilege. I've given you a fair opportunity to prepare for the hearing, and to speak with the White House in advance so that we could avoid this fight in the first place. But, you don't appear to have done any of that.

The department's failure to do its due diligence here to me is deeply troubling. I do not believe that issuing a subpoena here would correct the problem, but I'm going to give you the opportunity to rectify the situation. After today's hearing, we will attempt to reach an accommodation with the department to obtain answers to these questions.

As part of that process, I ask for your commitment to return for a deposition before this committee and the following, in the coming weeks under oath with an understanding that the transcript will be released to the public as soon as practicable thereafter. Any questions that are unanswered today require consultation with the White House will be asked again at that proceeding and I expect either a clean answer, or a proper assertion of privilege claimed by the president. I would ask members on both sides of the aisle to make those questions clear for the record, so we know what must be addressed at the future proceeding.

Now, in your capacity as Acting Attorney General, have you ever been asked to approve any request or action to be taken by the Special Counsel?


WHITAKER: Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up, and so I'm-- We-- I'm here voluntarily. We have a agreed to five minute rounds, and--

NADLER: Committee, I think that's a fine place beyond the five-minute rule. The committee will end, will come to-- I will point out that we didn't enforce the five-minute rule on Acting Attorney General Whitaker. We will--

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON (OFF CAMERA): I understand Mr. Nadler. I was just saying that might be a good breaking point, if that is OK for you.

NADLER: No. The attorney general was in the middle of saying something.


NADLER: Answer the question, please.


NADLER: Should I ask the questioning? OK. In your capacity--

WHITAKER: Who is asking the question? I just want to know.

NADLER: Let me just repeat the question, so people remember what we're talking about. In your capacity as Acting Attorney General, have you ever been asked to approve any request, or action to be taken by the Special Counsel.

WHITAKER: Mr. Chairman, I as the Acting Attorney General, I am under the Special Counsel's rules. I am the person that is ultimately in charge of the investigation and I have exercised that authority under these Special Counsel's Regulations of the Department of Justice.

NADLER: So, I assume the answer is yes.


NADLER: So, I assume the answer is yes.


NADLER: You have been asked to approve a request to action, and you've said yes or no? In other words--

WHITAKER: Mr. Chairman, I want to be very clear about what you're asking me. Are you asking me if I have asked the Special Counsel to do something?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON (OFF CAMERA): Regular order, Mr. Chairman.

NADLER: Thanks, is this the whole thing? (SIDE CONVERSATION). Well, I mean, I'm asking if-- I think my words were clear enough. Have you ever been asked to approve any requests to actually be taken by the Special Counsel. Last week, you commented on the status of the investigation stating, "It was close to being completed." This was said despite the fact you recognized just moments before that it was ongoing stating, "I'm really am not going to talk about an open and ongoing investigation otherwise." So, all I'm asking you is, have you been asked to approve, or disapprove a request, or action to be taken by the Special Council.

WHITAKER: Point of order, Mr. Chairman.

NADLER: I've asked the question.

WHITAKER: Point of order, Mr. Chairman.

NADLER: When an order is not in order until the question is answered.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON (OFF CAMERA): We're not operating under the five- minute rule anymore.

NADLER: Point of order. The witness will answer the question.

WHITAKER: I want to be very specific about this Mr. Chairman, because I think it's going to allay a lot of fears that have existed among this committee, among the Legislative Branch largely, and maybe amongst some American people. We have followed the Special Council's Regulations to a tee. There has been no event, no decision that has required me to take any action, and I have not interfered in any way with the Special Counsels investigation.

NADLER: Very good. Thank you. My time is expired, and I recognized the ranking member, the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Collins.

REP. DOUG COLLINS, RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE, R-GEORGIA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Again, it is playing out exactly as we thought. This is my colleagues across the aisle when we had questions about the FBI's operation, and investigations, it was, "Oh, stay away, we don't want to get close to Mueller." In fact, the chairman even said, you know, we-- Is it no longer okay to wait for Robert Mueller? Well, it's no longer right. I got you in front of them right now. So, get ready. This is all this is going to be, DOJ oversight.

And, it is. I'm just going to say for a second, there is some things interesting here that you did point out in your opening statement that they do need addressing. I think there's a lot of things, whether it be voting rights issues, whether these civil rights issues, and other things, and I get that. But, I'm also going to deal with something that is directly under your oversight provision Mr. Acting Attorney General, and we're going to talk about, about something I've written a letter about. And, believe I believe that lying before this body, or any body is wrong, especially under oath, and that's not the issue, but the issue is tactics. And my question is, were you aware of Roger Stone's indictment before it became public.

WHITAKER: Congressman, that a, as you know, a important question. It is also, Mr. Stone is part of an ongoing investigation. But, I have again been briefed on the Special Counsel's investigation that would have been a, you know, that would been considered a development that I would have been briefed on, and I was on that.

COLLINS: Are you familiar from public Boards, or otherwise, that a CNN reporter was camped out, outside of Stone's house when the FBI arrested him? This wouldn't be part of the investigations.

WHITAKER: I am aware of that, and it was it was deeply deeply concerning to me as to how CNN found out about that.

COLLINS: Well, that is a good-- I'm glad we're going down that road Mr. Attorney General, because this is a-- Did somebody at the Department of Justice seemingly share a draft indictment with CNN prior to Stone's arrest? Prior, or prior to a grand jury's finding of a true Bill?


WHITAKER: Ranking Member Collins, the court had a sealed indictment that after Mr. Stone's arrest was unsealed. Consistent with all its prior indictments, the DOJ's basic policy for transparency in criminal cases, is that the indictment is posted on the DOJ web page promptly after it's unsealed, and then media outlets were notified. We do not know of any, and I do not know of any other Special Counsel's Office notice, or DOJ notice to media outlets regarding Mr. Stone's indictment, or his arrest.


WHITAKER: Otherwide, you know, I'd really, as I sit here today, don't have any other information that I can talk about regarding Mr. Stone.

COLLINS: Well, given your-- I mean, given your answer even just then, it does seem concerning given the timing of this reporter's knowledge, and other things that there seems to have been a gap in that discovery. And, just another question is, if anybody went outside this, would you view this is a problem? Do you, I mean, because this looks like this is something-- I want to ask you, in your final days here, would this be a problem with DOJ if we're looking at--? The timing doesn't match up. That somebody was, it seems to appear, that this was given pre or prior knowledge, not going through the normal channels. Because if it was given through normal channels, every media outlet would have been there, but only one was. WHITAKER: Mr. Collins, I share your concern with the possibility that a media outlet was tipped off to Mr. Stone's either indictment, or arrest before it was made. That information was available to the public.

COLLINS: One of the other issues, and this is, you know, since we're going to go down-- Mr. Chairman wanted to have this. I know that this is a question that's not unfamiliar, and it should be. Is Bruce Ohr still employed with the Department of Justice?

WHITAKER: To answer your question directly Mr. Collins, Bruce Ohr is currently employed with the Department of Justice.

COLLINS: OK. Is there any process at this point, or in that you could come, and I understand personnel issues. But are you aware of the discussions, and also the implication, investigations from Congress, and from others surrounding Bruce Ohr's involvement in many of the investigation problems that we have seen over the past few years at DOJ?

WHITAKER: Mr. Collins, I am generally aware of Mr. Ohr being-- questions being raised about his behavior at the Department of Justice.

COLLINS: This has-- Let me tell you a different way. Knowing what you know, and seeing what you have seen in using your past experience and prior knowledge, do you believe that Mr. Ohr was operating outside normal channels and appropriate channels, in which he was operating, under which has been publicly reported?

WHITAKER: Mr. Collins, this is a very important question for many people, both in this body and in the general public. The Office of Inspector General is currently looking at the Carter Page FISA applications.

COLLINS: Which is a very much of a concern.

WHITAKER: And, it is also being reviewed at the same time simultaneously by Mr. John Huber, who is the US attorney from Utah, who was asked by Attorney General Sessions to conduct a review of certain matters at the Department of Justice. And so, together with the fact that any situation regarding Mr. Ohr's employment would be part of a confidential Human Resources process, I'm just unable to talk anymore about Mr. Ohr, his involvement in any matters that could be subject to either an Inspector General's investigation, or a Human Resource matter .

COLLINS: Well Acting Attorney General, would agree, barring the-- Now again, as we had another part to our play this morning, and are now finding out that you may be subpoenaed to come back into a deposition, which again, as we continue down this line. Is there any way around this to continue to attack it, if the investigation of the president? This is again, it's just an amazing--

I just want to say one, in your last few days, you know, do your best, do your job, and continue to do that part. But, also at a certain point in time, there's many on this committee, many on our side of the aisle as well as the other side of the aisle, that have been very concerned with what we have seen at the Department of Justice, especially in the FBI, and especially over the last few years. This should turn every citizen, whether a Republican, Democrat, Independent, could care less about politics, when there's ever a perception, and I've shared this with others that have came before you to testify. Whenever there's a perception that there is not a equal treatment on either side that is a problem.

It needs to be addressed. I'm hoping that when Bill Barr comes in this will be one of his first steps, so we can continue with-- I know you've attempted to do that, but this is going to be a long day, and it's going to be a day in which we chase a lot of rabbits unfortunately. When we get to the end of the day, the good men and women in the Department of Justice, which is what you were pitched with back before the chairman was the chairman. This is not going to be an oversight hearing. It's going to be more of a rabbit chase down a lot of holes. With that I yield back.

WHITAKER: Mr. Collins, if you don't-- [Mr. Mannick?], may I answer this?


WHITAKER: I think it's important as we sit here today that we understand that this is not a confirmation hearing.


WHITAKER: That I am probably going to be replaced by Bill Barr in the next week. This is an oversight hearing for the Department of Justice, and I am I'm surprised as we both had the chairman and the ranking member talk about what they want to talk about. That we haven't talked anything about the work regarding violent crime. We haven't talked about the opioid crisis. We haven't talked about religious liberty. We haven't talked about free speech on our college campuses, and a whole host of other issues that I know are very important to you.

And, I look forward to talking about the substance of the work at the Department of Justice, but if this-- I mean, it is your five minutes, and you can ask the questions that are of most interest to you, but I you know as I said here today, I would like to talk about the incredible work that we've been doing at the Department of Justice since I was Chief of Staff and now Acting Attorney General.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON (OFF CAMERA): Oh, I appreciate that, but you'd watch the-- If you would have been glued to a TV yesterday morning, you'd have found out this wasn't what this was going to be about. Thank you, Mr Attorney.

NADLER: Ladies and gentlemen, there were votes on the floor. There's 11 minutes left. We're informed they're going to strictly enforce the 15-minute rule. We'll see if that's true, but we will not risk it. So, the committee will--

WHITAKER: Fifteen-minute rule. It's changed now?

NADLER: The committee will stand in recess until after the-- immediately after the last -- of the last in this series of votes.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Great. All right, so that was quite something. You saw the standoff there by the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler there. Trying to get the Acting Attorney General, Matthew Whitaker, to answer some key questions about his conversations with the administration, with the president about the Special Counsel's probe. Tried to nail him down on some dates. Many of those questions were not answered by Whitaker. He did answer some. And then, you saw the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, the Republican Doug Collins, calling this really just a charade, and chasing a rabbit down a hole.

So, let's bring our experts back in. Evan Perez, Jeffrey Toobin, Shan Wu. I think we have Mia with us as well.

Jeffrey, let me just-- All right, Jeffrey, let me just go do this. They're recessing here to vote for about 10 minutes or so, then they'll start up again. What struck you the most?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that he's not going to answer questions.

HARLOW: Right.

TOOBIN: About (a) His conversations with the president, and (b) any substantive interactions he had with the Mueller team. So, he did say, as he said in a press conference a few weeks ago, he has been briefed.

HARLOW: Right. He said yes, eventually.

TOOBIN: Right, but we knew that already, and he has cited executive privilege for any sort of interactions with the president. So, I would say this has been less than illuminating.

HARLOW: So far.

TOOBIN: So far.

HARLOW: Only two members in.

TOOBIN: Good theater though.

HARLOW: Evan Perez to you. One of the questions that he would not answer is, how many times he's been briefed by Mueller, and whether he spoke to other members of the administration about the Mueller Probe, or even third parties who would have told members of the administration, or the president here.

I just want to remind our viewers, this is someone who is an Acting Attorney General, who has a very important job. Right now, today, which has overseen the Mueller Probe. But, if Bill Barr is confirmed as the Attorney General, he won't be doing that in a matter of days. So, Republicans you heard, calling it a charade. The Democrats saying we have some important questions we want answered here. What's your view?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well look, I actually think we got a lot of information from him. Look, he was briefed. He was prepped. There was a lot of preparation at the Justice Department in the last few days. They went through what the likely questions were going to be, and they went over with him answers that he should give, and how to protect executive privilege. But, you got to, I got to say, he pierced that executive privilege a long time ago. Last week, when he talked about this investigation--

HARLOW: Interesting.

PEREZ: He talked about being briefed. He talked a lot about a lot of things. Today even, he said that, you know, these are questions I can't get into, but then quickly said, well I haven't talked to the president about this. I have not interfered in this investigation. So, a lot of things that he was intending not to answer, he quickly, he sort of, went off script, and gave an answer too. And, including saying that he knew about the Roger Stone indictment, because as attorney, the Acting Attorney General, he would have been briefed before it was brought. And, if he wanted to block it, he could have, but he said, I did not interfere with that.

So, I think it's actually a lot of information that came from him, perhaps unintentionally, but he gave us a lot here. But, I think you're right. I mean look, he's not going to say whether he talked directly to the president about anything in particular, because that is directly under executive privilege.

HARLOW: You point to something that I was, sort of, surprised by when you come in ready to not answer questions.

PEREZ: Right.

HARLOW: Or, you know, exert your Fifth Amendment right, which wasn't what he was going to do here, or exert, you know, executive privilege. You typically read off a script, and you say the same thing over and over again. And, he didn't do that. And now, they're actually pressed him to answer some of those questions that he clearly wasn't intending to, which it's an interesting point Evan.

TOOBIN: Can I just add to this point. I just, you know, I think Evan makes a really important point that I think characteristically, Evan was right, and I was wrong.


TOOBIN: Is that, he did say I have not interfered with the Mueller Investigation.

HARLOW: Right. TOOBIN: That is new information that we did not know, and it's significant. Now Mueller may disagree about that, we may find out down the road. But, I think his assertion that he has not interfered, or stopped Mueller from doing anything is significant, and is an answer to a question. And, I think Evan was right to point that out.

HARLOW: Right. His words, he has, "Not interfered in any way with the Special Counsel probe." Good point. Evan, before I move on to the rest of our team here, I just want you to clarify something for all of our viewers, OK. You heard the Ranking Republican there, Doug Collins, asked Matthew Whitaker, if he was concerned that the CNN reporter was present outside of Roger Stone's house in Florida about two weeks ago when the FBI raided, right? And arrested Stone.

PEREZ: Right.

HARLOW: And, you know, whether CNN was tipped off. That was a question. The answer is no. But, why don't you walk us through the facts of why CNN had a hunch that perhaps something would happen that morning to Roger Stone.

PEREZ: Right. Pretty much every Friday, we were anticipating, certainly for the last couple of months, that Roger Stone could be indicted. And so, you know, historically here, just covering this investigation in the last couple of years, we've known that it is an activity that happens on Fridays. And certainly, when the grand jury is sitting, we have reporters who sit in front of the Mueller office. We have reporters who sit inside the courthouse watching for the grand jury action. And, we saw some action on that Thursday, which is unusual. They don't normally come in on Thursday. They usually come in on Friday.

HARLOW: Right.

PEREZ: So, that was one of the hints that we had that something might be up. There was also a lot of other hints. We saw one of the prosecutors, one of the key prosecutors, who has been handling the Roger Stone matter show up to work with a suitcase. Believe it or not that was a big clue to us. I know people find that hard to believe, but it seemed to indicate that he was going somewhere, and given the fact that this is still ongoing, we thought well, maybe he is going to the location.

Listen, we know Roger Stone lives in Florida , and we saw him leave the office, and as a matter of fact in casual clothes. So, again there were a lot of little hints that were being picked up, and so we decided, just out of abundance of caution, to send a reporter.

HARLOW: To be there.

PEREZ: To put a reporter on a plane late that evening, and they were there in place just before the FBI got there. Look, I think Matt Whitaker, you saw a little bit of a smile early on. He knows exactly what's happening here. It's a bit of a conspiracy being hatched, and Matt Whitaker, who knows the answer to this, he could simply pick up the phone, and get the answer to this. But, he's choosing to, kind of, play along with this conspiracy, which is frankly just false.

HARLOW: It's just not based in fact. All right, thank you Evan for correcting the record there. Shan, to you, what was most striking? Was it that he actually answered a bunch of stuff he wasn't going to?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: What's most striking is, he is a real weak link here. That the Democrats could exploit here. You don't get this kind of preparation, and you're ready not to answer questions. Going to say well, you know, you give half your boilerplate response, and then you answer the question. That's just really silly. That's really poor answering on his part. There's a lot of room here to push.

HARLOW: But why would he do that Shan? I mean, he's an attorney. Why would he do that?

WU: Ineptness, nervousness. They can be exploited further, because there's so much about the executive privilege parameters that can be pushed. He can only, at best, make an argument that I'm not talking about content. But, who, when, dates, format, all that he can be pressed on, and he is going to be hard pressed to say that's all within the privilege. And judging from his performance so far, I don't think he's going to stand very strongly on that.

HARLOW: Laura, at the Department of Justice, you cover all this. That, you know, the letter that went to-- from Nadler to Whitaker back on January 22nd laying out all these questions we have for you, and saying let us know 48 hours before this hearing starts if you're not going to answer these. And then, the whole subpoena fight. We just heard Nadler admit that a subpoena wouldn't do anything here.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as we've sort of been discussing, over the last couple days, Congress really only has a couple options here. And, that's why we've sort of wondered, how much Democrats wanted to press the point with somebody who's going to be out of a job most likely if Bill Barr gets confirmed next week. And whether, this is the one that they really want to, you know, count their chips on, or whether they want to wait for someone else.

Obviously if, you know, they tried to press the subpoena and he flouted it in some way, if he hadn't showed up, or he didn't answer questions to their satisfaction, and they could try to hold him in contempt. But, even that, if they tried to take it to court that's a civil remedy. If they tried to enforce it themselves, that doesn't get used very often. If they tried to refer it to DOJ for prosecution, that's going to be pretty useless considering the DC US Attorney would be the one having to look at that for the Acting Attorney General. So, you can see how far that's going to go.