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Acting Attorney General Claims He Has Not Interfered In Mueller Probe


In contentious testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker claimed he has not interfered in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of alleged collusion between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia.

"There has been no decision that has required me to take any action, and I have not interfered with the special counsel's investigation in any way," Whitaker told the Democrat-controlled committee during a hearing on Friday.

Whitaker also told the committee that he did not intend to talk about his conversations with Trump but made an exception to claim he has not talked to the president about Mueller's investigation.

The hearing comes as Democrats have raised questions about why Trump chose Whitaker to temporarily replace fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Democrats argue Trump ignored the statutory line of succession at the Justice Department by appointing Whitaker, who previously served as Sessions' Chief of Staff.

The Democrats on the committee also criticized for Whitaker for rejecting Justice Department ethics officials' advice that he should recuse himself from supervising the Mueller investigation.

Sessions recused himself from the investigation over undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador, leading to repeated criticism from Trump.

Whitaker was openly critical of the probe before joining the Justice Department, leading to speculation the criticism made him an attractive candidate for the president.

Meanwhile, Congressman Doug Collins, R-Ga., the committee's top Republican, described the hearing as "pure political theater," "pointless," and a "dog and pony show."

In posts to Twitter during Whitaker's testimony, Trump highlighted Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr's, R-N.C., claim that he has seen no evidence of collusion between the president's campaign and Russia.

"The mainstream media has refused to cover the fact that the head of the VERY important Senate Intelligence Committee, after two years of intensive study and access to Intelligence that only they could get, just stated that they have found NO COLLUSION between 'Trump' & Russia," Trump tweeted.

"It is all a GIANT AND ILLEGAL HOAX, developed long before the election itself, but used as an excuse by the Democrats as to why Crooked Hillary Clinton lost the Election!," he added. "Someday the Fake News Media will turn honest & report that Donald J. Trump was actually a GREAT Candidate!"

Trump has nominated Republican lawyer William Barr to permanently replace Whitaker as Attorney General, with his nomination narrowly clearing the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

During his confirmation hearing, Barr called it "vitally important" that Mueller be allowed to complete his investigation.

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