Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, appointed after Jeff Sessions resigned a year ago, was grilled by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee on Friday about whether his appointment was made to protect Trump from Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation.
Late last month, Mr. Whitaker told the press that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into so-called Russian collusion with the Trump campaign is "close to being completed".
He told lawmakers that he has "not talked to the President of the United States about the special counsel's investigation", adding that he has not spoken with senior White House officials either.
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker might not get a cordial welcome on Friday from the House Judiciary Committee - but at least he may show up.
"Congresswoman, I am an acting attorney general".
At times, Whitaker appeared to be adopting deliberate stalling tactics to avoid answering Democrats' questions.
"Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up, so I am...", said Whitaker, as there were groans through the hearing room.
Whitaker's highly anticipated testimony Friday had been in limbo after the Democratic-led committee approved a tentative subpoena to ensure that he appeared and answered questions.
"Mr. Whitaker, you don't run this committee", said Raskin.
'In your capacity as acting attorney general, have you ever been asked to approve any action or request to be taken by the special counsel?' he asked. He declined to say, for instance, whether he had discussed other ongoing investigations with the President, like the one in the Southern District of NY, and whether he deemed Mueller's probe a "witch hunt", a term the President has used several times.
When Nadler kept pressing him on the same matter, that's when things got entertaining and when Whitaker started snapping back with some fresh quips.
Members from both sides of the aisle questioned Whitaker during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Friday. It will be the first time this Congress a Cabinet-level official has testified publicly before a committee of the Democratic House.
But Whitaker's appointment has always been a test for how Democrats will use their newfound majority to flex their oversight muscles.
Yet Democrats yielded no new information about the status of the Mueller probe as Whitaker repeatedly refused to discuss conversations with the president or answer questions that he thought might reveal details.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has also announced a sweeping investigation into Mr Trump's actions as president, and has hired former White House staff members to aid in the probe.
Whitaker is likely in his final days as the country's chief law enforcement officer because the Senate plans to vote soon on confirming William Barr, Trump's pick for attorney general. When Nadler gaveled the hearing into a five-minute recess, Whitaker said into an open mic: "Five minutes for lunch?"
The tone of the hearing had been teased on Thursday when Nadler threatened to subpoena Whitaker, while the DOJ threatened to boycott the hearing.