House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) sent a letter to former hot tub salesman and current acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker today, laying out the questions Whitaker can expect to face at his Feb. 8 hearing before the committee.
The questions, submitted so that Whitaker can check in advance whether the White House will invoke “executive privilege,” range from his controversial appointment on Nov. 7 to last week’s disputed Buzzfeed story.
Most of the queries focus on whether Whitaker has been acting as a spy for the White House with regards to the Mueller investigation.
“The questions that I have provided relate to whether there has been interference with the Special Counsel’s work,” the House Judiciary chair wrote in the message.
The first question focuses on whether Whitaker discussed his appointment as acting attorney general with the White House before Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ firing, and whether any White House officials were involved in Whitaker’s decision to ignore ethics guidance and decline to recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation.
The identity of a supposed “four-person team” of advisors that Whitaker consulted in making the decision not to recuse also appears on the list of questions, as well as whether any of those unnamed advisors spoke with White House officials about the decision. Nadler also asks whether Whitaker has ever been briefed on the contents of the special counsel investigation, and whether he passed on any of that information to Trump or his attorneys.
Trump’s reaction to his former attorney Michael Cohen’s guilty plea and subsequent sentencing also appears set to take center stage at the Whitaker hearing. Nadler asks Whitaker if Trump contacted him after Cohen’s guilty plea, and if he tried to fire or reassign Manhattan federal prosecutors working on the case.
Finally, the questions turn to the Buzzfeed story released last Friday, claiming that Trump ordered Cohen to lie to Congress – a crime to which Cohen later pleaded guilty. The special counsel issued an unprecedented denial of the story the day after it was published.
Subsequent reporting has indicated that Trump’s attorneys contacted the special counsel before it issued the public denial.
Nadler asks if Whitaker communicated with the White House about the story, and specifically regarding “the decision of the Special Counsel’s office to issue its subsequent statement.”