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Coverge of the Whitaker Testimony Continues. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired February 8, 2019 - 14:30   ET



NADLER: The gentleman (inaudible), Mr. Correa.

CORREA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, sir. I wanted to ask you about your enforcement priorities, one of my jobs here in Congress is to serve on Department of Homeland Security and within that job one of my most important critical jobs is to make sure our citizens are safe -- to protect our nation against terrorist threats.

In May 2017 a joined FBI-DHS bulletin warned of a growing threat of violence posed by white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, right-wing extremists and other white nationalists groups.

An extensive study of terrorist plots between '08 and '16 found that plots and attacks by nationalist groups in the U.S. outnumbered the treats by Islamic extremists 2 to 1. White supremacist groups have been aggressively recruiting on our college campuses.

A violence incidence involving these groups have more than tripled since 2017, more than 100 people have been killed or injured since 2014 and more than 60 in 2017 alone by these alt-right groups. Sir, just a very basic question do you believe that white nationalism, white supremacists, extremists or right-wing groups in this country pose a threat?

WHITAKER: Yes, I do.

CORREA: Is it growing?

WHITAKER: Based on that report issued by the FBI I have no reason, as I said here today, to disagree with it.

CORREA: Do you believe that the administration is placing enough of an emphasis -- enough resources allocated, dedicated to stopping these kinds of homegrown terrorist attacks?

WHITAKER: I believe that we are dedicating resources to the appropriate threats, that is done obviously below my role -- it's done mostly at the line and the management level at the FBI and our other agencies, including our partners at DHS as you mentioned. And I really...

CORREA: Do you believe...

WHITAKER: As I sit here today I think we are adequately addressing the threats that we face, but we always reallocating (inaudible)

CORREA: (Inaudible) I'm running out of time...

WHITAKER: Based on how those threats evolve.

CORREA: Adequately addressing the threat. And you mentioned earlier in your opening statement 30 convictions -- hate crime convictions.

Yet in 2017 an increase of 17 percent hate crimes reported, which they're usually underreported in this country. More than 7,000 hate crimes in 2017 and you have 30 convictions. Do you think you're allocating adequate resources towards prosecuting hate crimes?

WHITAKER: I do, and if you look at some of the high profile cases we've done like the Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, or the Charlottesville situation we previously discussed. Or even the case where we sent a prosecutor to my home state of Iowa to help prosecute a state hate crime. I think we have addressed the hate crime...

CORREA: But if you -- again, sir, if you look at the number 7,000 reported. Almost 20 percent increase in 2017, 30 convictions. Adequate?

WHITAKER: Sir we always work with our state partners and the local police to determine where is the best place, and the most effective place to prosecute a crime? And so to suggest that somehow that those victims of those crimes don't receive the proper justice, I think would be (inaudible)...

CORREA: I think I'm looking at it from relative -- we're looking at foreign terrorism, and yet are we ignoring domestic terrorism?

WHITAKER: No we are not ignoring that.

CORREA: So are we allocating the equal, or more resources to domestic versus foreign, yes or no?

WHITAKER: Congressman we allocate our resources based upon the threats and where the Federal government should deploy those resources. And again, it's a very dynamic, daily evaluation as to where the threats are -- and I believe we are adequately resourcing all of the threats, including the ones you described.

CORREA: Do you think domestic terrorism from white extremist groups is on the rise, and do you think we should allocate additional resources to combating these kinds of terrorist attacks in this country?

WHITAKER: Congressman, I believe I already answered this question but I just want to be clear. I agree with the FBI's assessment...

CORREA: I'm sorry -- I didn't hear your answer.

WHITAKER: Well I believe with the FBI's statement that those crimes are on the rise. I also believe that we have adequately deployed our resources on a daily basis, dynamically as required by those threats. And I have seen it, based in my intelligence briefings that I participate on, on almost a daily basis. And I know that the FBI and the other Federal law enforcement agencies are adequately resourcing these threats in addition to all the other threats we face. It is a target-rich environment when it comes to law enforcement and making sure that...

CORREA: Sir, I'm running out of time -- though (ph) I'm going to say we're going to continue to look at this at Homeland Security, because I believe that we're missing the ball here in 2017. DHS terminated grant funding to look at some of these issues of domestic terrorism. We have to keep addressing this issue, lives -- the safety of our citizens is at stake. Mr. Chairman, I yield.

NADLER: The gentleman had yielded. Ms. Scanlon.

SCANLON: Good afternoon, Mr. Whitaker.

WHITAKER: Good afternoon.

SCANLON: In response to a question from my Pennsylvania colleague, you mentioned that the Department of Justice has been attempting to withhold Federal dollars from so-called sanctuary cities, is that right?

WHITAKER: Well yes, I talked about the Byrne JAG Grants.

SCANLON: Thank you. And one of those cities is Philadelphia, right?

WHITAKER: I believe so, yes.

SCANLON: I happen to represent Philadelphia. Isn't it true that Judge Mike Baleson (ph) of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled that the Department of Justice's attempt to withhold this money was illegal and unconstitutional?

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, that is the...

SCANLON: Isn't it correct that that was the ruling of the Federal Court?

WHITAKER: Congresswoman...

SCANLON: Isn't it correct that that was the ruling...

WHITAKER: I am not going to discuss an ongoing litigation...

SCANLON: Isn't it correct that the Federal Court ruled that the Department of Justice's action was illegal and unconstitutional? That's a matter of public record, sir.

WHITAKER: Congresswoman...

SCANLON: Is it correct?

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, I don't disagree but a district court judge...

SCANLON: Mr. Whitaker you may be confused here. This may be appear to be a contact sport, but it's not a gridiron, and I'm not letting you run out the time, OK?

Isn't true the federal court ruled that was illegal and unconstitutional?

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, again this is a subject...


SCANLON: OK, I'll take that as a yes.


WHITAKER: ... of ongoing litigation...


SCANLON: Isn't it also true, Mr. Whitaker -- Mr. Whitaker, I'm asking the question. Isn't also true that the court found that the Department of Justice had not produced any credible evidence that undocumented immigrants committed crime at a higher rater than any other group?

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, this is a subject of ongoing litigation...

SCANLON: Isn't it true that the federal court found that in a public opinion?

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, I am not going to comment on an ongoing litigation...


SCANLON: OK. I'll talk that as a yes as well. Let's move on to some other questions. And just to be clear, I'm asking oversight questions about your information priorities during your tenure, OK, at the Department of Justice.

I want to make sure we're clear on when that tenure began. I have a date of September 22nd, 2017 that you became Chief of Staff. Is that correct?

WHITAKER: That is incorrect.

SCANLON: OK. When is your first working date as Chief of Staff for Attorney General Sessions?

WHITAKER: I started at the Department of Justice on October 4th of 2017.

SCANLON: OK. And then you became acting Attorney General as of November 7th, 2018?

WHITAKER: The President tweeted that I was going to be the next acting Attorney General on November 7th of 2018. The order that I have received from the President has the date of November 8th of 2018.

SCANLON: OK. Do you have a copy of that order?

WHITAKER: I do have a copy of that order.

SCANLON: Can you provide it to the committee, please.

WHITAKER: I'd be happy to. I don't have it with me though, (inaudible).

SCANLON: OK. That'll be wonderful, turning to some other enforcement priorities.

On December 22nd, 2017 the Department of Justice sent a formal request to the Census Bureau asking for an addition to the Census of a question asking about citizenship status.

Did Attorney General Sessions direct the department lawyers to draft that request?

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, the department is currently defending the Census Bureau in litigation on this issue across the country.

SCANLON: Did Attorney General Sessions ask or are you refusing to answer the question?

WHITAKER: I think it's inappropriate for me to comment about the subject of ongoing litigation.

SCANLON: OK, Mr. Chairman I'd like to reflect that Mr. Whitaker hasn't answered the question. I'd ask this matter to be addressed in the upcoming deposition.

Let's see. Do you know if the President directed Department of Justice lawyers to make that request?

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, this is the subject of ongoing litigation...

SCANLON: OK, so you're not going to answer that question either?

WHITAKER: ... but we are currently defending the United States courts (ph).

SCANLON: Thank you. Was acting assistant Attorney General John Gore involved in the drafting of that request to add the Census question?

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, as I've previously stated this is the subject of ongoing litigation.

SCANLON: OK. So we'll let the record reflect that again you're refusing to answer the question.

OK. We can agree that one of the functions of the Department of Justice is to enforce the Voting Rights Act, correct?

WHITAKER: Correct and one of the jobs as... SCANLON: OK, thank you. And isn't it also true that the most recent Voting Rights Act enforcement action was filed on January 10th, 2017.

WHITAKER: As I've mentioned previously, the Department...

SCANLON: Is it correct that the most recent voting rights enforcement act action filed by your department was in 2017, January 10?

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, I'll give you an example where...

SCANLON: It's a yes or no question.

WHITAKER: ... during the first term of the Obama administration they filed I believe one...

SCANLON: OK, reclaiming my time. No running out the clock.

WHITAKER: I'm trying to answer your question.

SCANLON: Chairman, if we can enter into the record the Department of Justice website, which reflects when the last Voting Rights Act case was filed, January 10th 2017.

NADLER: With that objection, the fact that that is noted on the website will be entered into the record.

SCANLON: Thank you. Isn't it true that under the Trump administration the Department of Justice has reversed its position on at least three important Voting Rights Act cases?

WHITAKER: May I answer the question? I see my time has expired.

(UNKNOWN): I think there's a yes or no.

WHITAKER: The Department of Justice ...

NADLER: The gentlelady's time has expired. The witness may answer the question.

WHITAKER: Thank you. The Department of Justice has changed positions only in one voting case and that's the Husted case, and the Supreme Court agreed with our new reading of the statute.

NADLER: (Inaudible)?

GARCIA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I have about four documents that I -- I ask for unanimous consent to be entered into the record.

The first one is titled "Crime and Murder in 2018 and Preliminary Analysis." The second one reads "Border Communities Have Lower Crime Rates." The third one reads, "Amid Crisis Rhetoric, Local Leaders Defend Border Region From Misconceptions," and this is a report from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. And then the last one is Progressive Times (ph), Mission, Texas serve (ph) -- "Crime Dropped 10 Percent In Rural Colleyville (ph) In The Last Year."

NADLER: Without objection, these documents will be entered into the record. The gentlelady is now recognized for five minutes.

GARCIA: So Mr. Acting Attorney General, what is it, in your mind, that leads you to conclude that the border region is -- is crime-ridden when these documents that I just entered into the record clearly show that Del Rio, Brownsville, El Paso, all the areas on the border region and in fact even El Paso is listed in the top 29 cities where crime has gone down that you quoted in your written testimony.

If all of these stats show differently, why are you so insistent that this is a crime-ridden area? And I just -- please, a short answer, cause I've only got five minutes.

WHITAKER: I don't recall saying today that the border region is crime- ridden, but I will answer your question as fulsomely as I can, and that is -- is that illegal immigration through our southern border is dramatically and negatively impacting the crime rate in our cities.

It would be lower if we didn't have illegal immigration. I point to the example of Mollie Tibbetts ...

GARCIA: So you're talking about other cities, not the cities there in fact in the border areas?

WHITAKER: Well I think you would agree with me that -- that most illegal immigrants that come in through our southern border don't -- don't reside at the border regions, that they transit through there then make their way to other parts of our country.

GARCIA: Well I know many companies in Houston, cause we've got good jobs and we're an open city, but I heard you say earlier -- and maybe the word "crime-ridden" was not the exact word you -- you used, but it was alluding to the fact that the border areas were -- had a lot of crime.

And I just simply don't agree with you, but let me move on to another topic in following up on some questions about the family separation policy or the zero tolerance policy. You said earlier in -- in answering a question about some of your background that you were by General Sessions side for four years, side-by-side, and you were aware of everything in the Justice Department's separation policy. Is that true?

WHITAKER: I served as Chief of Staff for 13 months and I -- I -- I am familiar with the zero tolerance policy, yes.

GARCIA: Well -- but you said you were -- you were with him side-by- side, so can you tell us if you were in the room when it happened, when the actual zero tolerance policy was hatched?

WHITAKER: I participated in discussions about the zero tolerance policy internally, but again, I'm not going to talk about the internal deliberations. The decision was to issue a zero tolerance policy. GARCIA: But who -- who is -- who is the brain child of the policy? Who hatched it? I mean where did it come from? We've never had it before to the level that it's being executed now.

WHITAKER: It was General Sessions decision to implement and he signed the memo implementing it and distributed that to our border district U.S. Attorneys.

GARCIA: All right, so let me go on and ask this question. How many children are still separated from their families as we sit here today?

WHITAKER: That's a -- that's a number that only DHS and HHS would know. I -- as I sit here, the Department of Justice isn't involved in handling children that are encountered at the border, whether as a family unit or as an unaccompanied minor.

GARCIA: So you have no idea how many children might be -- you've not seen any documents cross your desk from DHS or ORR or anybody else?

WHITAKER: Again, those are different departments within the ...

GARCIA: No, I know that sir, but -- but I know that you're the Acting Attorney General and a lot -- you get a lot of reports, a lot of -- a lot of documents, a lot of data. You've not seen anything to give us any idea just how many children have been torn away from the arms of their mothers?

WHITAKER: No, I would have to refer you to HHS and DHS. Again, when ...

GARCIA: Do you know how many have been reunited with their families?

WHITAKER: Again, Congresswoman, I -- those are not statistics that I am involved in because those cases ...


GARCIA: ... be the one to write the little figure -- finger sticks counting the children, I just want to know if you've seen anything cross your desk or any member of your staff so that -- so that Americans who are displaying (ph) this policy to me, abhorrent and inhumane, you have an idea as to when the children will ever be reunited with their families.

You cannot -- you cannot tell us that today?

WHITAKER: No, I would have to refer you to HHS and DHS, which are -- which would be responsible for the parts of the process. Because once we receive individuals for prosecution under the zero tolerance policy, we only deal with the adults and -- and -- and ...

GARCIA: All right, one last question since I'm running out of time. At the State Of The Union, the President said that he was going to make -- and I'm paraphrasing -- a -- a priority to make sure that people with pre-existing conditions were protected.

Does that mean that you're going to drop all of the ACA litigation that you're involved in?

WHITAKER: As you know, Congresswoman, that -- the Affordable Care Act litigation is ongoing, it's in ...

GARCIA: Well I know that, the question is are you going to be willing to settle it or are you going to be able to -- to drop some of that since the President is changing priorities and direction for his Department of Justice?

NADLER: The time of the gentlelady has expired, the witness may answer the question.

WHITAKER: We have a unitary executive and if -- and if the President sets a policy and issues a policy directive, we will follow that policy.

GARCIA: Thank you.

NADLER: Mr. Neguse?

NEGUSE: Mr. Attorney General, thank you for being here. I also want to thank my colleague, the distinguished gentleman from South Dakota, (inaudible), for his support of criminal justice reform, and looking forward to working with him.

(UNKNOWN): North Dakota.

NEGUSE: North Dakota, my apologies. I look forward to working with him on criminal justice reform. I want to talk about another policy matter with respect to cannabis. I represent the state of Colorado. In Colorado, recreational use of marijuana was legalized in 2014.

Today, more than half the states have legalized either the recreational or medical use of marijuana. Researchers at the University of Colorado, which I am proud to represent, are working hard to understand the health effects.

They're studying (ph) promising approaches that use marijuana to relieve chronic pain and the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.

In August of 2016 -- I understand this is before you were at the Department of Justice, Mr. Attorney General -- the DEA took a big step towards improving scientific research on marijuana when it submitted a request in the Federal Register for applications to produce federally approved research-grade marijuana.

Several institutions have submitted an application, they have yet to receive a response. What is the status of those applications, if you might know, and -- and do you know if the Department of Justice and the DEA intend to support legitimate cannabis research that could help protect the health and safety of our citizens?

WHITAKER: For the three months that I've been the Acting Attorney General, this is an issue that I've been aware of and I've actually tried to get the expansion and the applications out. We have run into a very complicated matter regarding a treaty that we're trying to work around.

We have some international treaty obligations that may not allow the way that marijuana has to be handled from the research facilities to the researchers -- the grow facility to the researchers.

So it is something that I am very aware of. It's something I'm trying to push. Unfortunately, I have six days left in this chair at the most so I don't know if I'm going to successfully get to it but I understand the concern and know that we're trying to make it work.

NEGUSE: I appreciate that and I applaud that. And if I could get your assurances that within the six days if you could just follow up with the department staff to follow up with our office in writing it'd be incredibly helpful for us as folks reach out, so.

WHITAKER: Yes. We'll try to get an answer as to the current status, but in my recollection of where I last found it is that the...

NEGUSE: No, that's sufficient. I want to make sure (inaudible). Thank you, Mr. Attorney General.

You mentioned earlier that the public essentially learned that Attorney General Sessions was fired on November 7th, 2018 by tweet and you were appointed via that same tweet.

When did you first learn that Mr. Sessions was fired or would be fired?

WHITAKER: I learned on November 7th, if that's your question.


WHITAKER: Yes, okay. Yes.

NEGUSE: Okay, so you learned by virtue of that same tweet that we all learned?

WHITAKER: Yes, I would suggest the only point I'd put on that, Congressman I'm sorry to interrupt, but is that Mr. Sessions resigned and (ph) sent in his resignation letter.

NEGUSE: Understand. So did you have any conversations with folks at the White House prior to November 7th 2018 about Attorney General Sessions resigning or being fired, however you would characterize that?

WHITAKER: As is a long standing practice of the Department of Justice and in the Executive branch generally, the President's entitled to confidential communications.

And while I'm not confirming or denying the existence of any conversation I'm not going to talk about my private conversations with the President of the United States.

NEGUSE: We'll follow up on that front. I would ask the Chairman to take that in a deposition to the extent that one is noticed. Question around -- you mentioned earlier in some of your testimony around the reasoning behind your appointment that one of the reasons you believed in your view that you were appointed was to the position of acting Attorney General was your experience as a former U.S. Attorney, correct?

WHITAKER: Yes, correct. I spent five and a half years as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa.

NEGUSE: Yes, sir. And you also mentioned that one of the reasons in your view that you believed you were appointed acting Attorney General was that you had been at the Department of Justice for the last year or so working as the Chief of Staff to Attorney General Sessions, side by side I think you mentioned.

WHITAKER: Yes and I knew all of the active matters that we weren't recused from obviously. I knew all the policies that we had not only implemented but that were under progress.

NEGUSE: Understand.

WHITAKER: I knew all the people and the individuals both inside the Department of Justice and the integrate (ph)...

NEGUSE: Understand. I just want to reclaim my time here. So I appreciate that.

And I guess the question I have it, I'm sure you're aware that deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein is a former U.S. Attorney. That he also has been at the Department of Justice and he knows the people, he knows the matters, and that under the Vacancy Act he was next in line in succession to be appointed Attorney General in the occasion which that office was vacant.

(Inaudible) of Mr. Sessions termination or resignation or what have you and so I'm trying to understand and why -- were you surprised that you were appointed rather than Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein? That the ordinary rules of succession weren't followed?

WHITAKER: It's been a honor of a lifetime to serve as the acting Attorney General and I have, as I mentioned, six days left and I'm going to take full advantage of that including enjoying this hearing. But there are two different statutes that apply to the vacancy that was created by General Sessions letter of resignation.

And one was the succession statute by the Department of Justice and as you know the other one is the Vacancy Reform act, which has been passed by Congress and so my appointment as it's outlined in the 20 page OLC opinion is legitimate and has precedent.

NEGUSE: And I'm not -- with respect to Attorney General I was not referencing the legitimacy of the appointment.

What I was saying is, under the Vacancies Act, 28 USC 508, the deputy attorney general is the first assistant to the attorney general and so, therefore, would be the appropriate designee to fill that role. But, with that, I yield back.

WHITAKER: (Inaudible) Mr. Chairman.

NADLER: The gentleman has yielded back. Ms. McBath.

WHITAKER: Mr. Chairman? Mr. Chairman, I'm sorry.


WHITAKER: I just wanted to address that issue really quickly just so we're all on the same page. The first assistant, together with any other Senate confirmed individual, together with anyone that's served 90 days of the last 365 days at a senior position, is eligible to be. And there really -- there's no ranking or hierarchy of those three positions. Obviously I'm in the third bucket as chief of staff. I just wanted to make sure we're clear on that.

NADLER: Thank you, Ms. McBath.

MCBATH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Whitaker, I'm completely aware that North Carolina and Georgia were dealing with similar problems with voter suppression and I can actually tell you I witnessed voter suppression firsthand in Georgia, even as I was running in my own election.

Is it fair to say that the department was not remotely interested in securing the elections in North Caroline, rather that its intent was abusing its subpoena powers and wielding its mandate to protect our elections in a thinly veiled effort to suppress minority elections and populations?

WHITAKER: The Department of Justice is committed to upholding the voting rights of all Americans.

MCBATH: I understand that. But what I need you to clarify for me is what actions were taken for all of the voting rights to be upheld? Because you stated earlier -- your statement earlier was that you were side by side with AG -- with Attorney General Sessions advising him on all aspects of the -- of the department, yet you don't know -- but you're -- but at this point you're saying you don't appear -- that you don't appear -- that you do not suspect that there was any voter suppression. So what I'm asking is that, do you not know of any voter suppression or do you not know whether or not those laws are being enforced?

WHITAKER: I don't believe I said that I'm not aware that there might have been voter suppression. Did I -- is that something you heard me say?

MCBATH: I'm just -- I'm just asking you, might it be the case that you were not aware of any voter suppression?

WHITAKER: Well at the Department of Justice I sit atop a massive organization as you can imagine, and cases regarding voter suppression, voter fraud or really any enforcement of the Voting Rights Act or other statutes is done by U.S. Attorneys and FBI agents that are in the district doing those cases.

And so it would be unusual that I would have specific knowledge about any of -- any of -- any of the evidence in those cases. So you know, obviously, we do our cases free of political interference and if there is evidence of, as you suggest, voter suppression and we can predicate and investigation that is something we will seriously look at.

MCBATH: So did the department assess the need for election monitors in the 2019 elections?

WHITAKER: I think I -- I mentioned in my opening statement that we sent out 35 civil rights division teams to I believe 19 states, if I remember right. I might be wrong and I'd refer you back to my statement. But I -- we did send out election monitors from the civil rights division.

MCBATH: OK. Because I was in Georgia and I can tell I saw the problems but I didn't see the election monitors. Did you send any that you're aware of?

WHITAKER: As I sit here today, I do not know if Georgia received what I'm describing. Obviously we would have -- we would have -- the civil rights division would have determined where those assets could be deployed. I know in the 2004 election, when I was U.S. Attorney, the civil rights division sent I think three or four lawyers to my office to monitor the elections in Des Moines. So I wouldn't be surprised that they did send election monitors to Georgia.

MCBATH: Well I can tell you, I -- I really think that we needed them. And I'm very disappointed in the numbers that we received, we needed far more help than we -- than we go. But, also, on February 1st the committee sent you a letter asking again for information on the departments voting rights enforcement. And these questions were asked by members during the 115th Congress but were never answered. Will you commit to providing this information for this committee?

WHITAKER: We try to respond to all the letters we receive from Congress. Obviously, February 1st was I believe only a week or so ago -- I've kind of lost track of what day it is -- but yeah, I mean we will look at that letter and we will respond consistent with the way we respond to requests from Congress. But, I mean, these are important issues and I share your concern about some of these places where there is alleged voter suppression. And I know that we are going to enforce the voter's rights -- the Voting Rights Act robustly and we will -- again, if there is evidence we should get that to our FBI and the people that enforce these laws so we can properly predicate an investigation.

MCBATH: Well thank you for that because if we don't get answers I promise we'll keep asking.

Another question that I have is -- let's see here -- what steps did the department take to support election security efforts during the 2018 elections? Specific efforts. WHITAKER: Are you talking about the actual voting devices? Or...


WHITAKER: The responsibility for the security of the voting devices and machines is actually the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security.

MCBATH: Can you tell this committee what those -- what those responsibilities were, those steps that were actually taken? Because I can tell you there were many, many instances in Georgia. We saw over and over again where people were not allowed to vote.

NADLER: The time of the gentlelady has expired. The -- the witness may answer the question.

WHITAKER: Again, if there's specific evidence that crimes have been committed I -- we would be very interested in that at the Department of Justice.

MCBATH: Thank you.

NADLER: Thank you. Ms. Stanton -- Mr. Stanton.

STANTON: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. Mr. Whitaker, thank you for appearing before us here today. Your time as acting attorney general is near end. After that, you may or may not be working for Department of Justice or another position within the Trump administration but there are, of course, several Congressional investigations that involve yourself. And I want you here today to pledge that you will answer any and...


STANTON: ... Inspector General questions and cooperate fully with his investigations even after you depart from your current position.


WHITAKER: Are you talking about the DOJ Office of Inspector General...


WHITAKER: The (inaudible)...

STANTON: The Justice Department's Inspector General is currently considering several Congressional requests for information and investigations that involve you. Since you'll be leaving this position soon I want you to commit here today in front of this committee that you will answer the IG's questions and cooperate fully with those investigations.

WHITAKER: I'm -- I'm happy to -- to commit to that. I will cooperate with the inspector general; Michael Horowitz is a fine DOJ career employee. I have the utmost respect for him. I think he's done exceptional work. STANTON: Excellent. Thanks much (ph).

The impact of the government shutdown on the function of the Department of Justice, the law enforcement (ph) functions, is it fair to say that the shutdown was devastating on the ability of the department to do their work?

WHITAKER: The shutdown really was a difficult time at the Department of Justice because most of our employees are law enforcement and are -- you know are accepted (ph) in their performance of their duties. And so they showed up every day like dedicated public servants and did their job knowing that you, here in Congress, would ultimately pay them and come to some resolution of the shutdown.

STANTON: We appreciate your recognition of that.