"Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up", Whitaker said. When Nadler gaveled the hearing into a five-minute recess, Whitaker said into an open mic: "Five minutes for lunch?"
Trump's naming of Whitaker as acting attorney general caused controversy in part because it meant that the president's appointee oversees the probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into whether Moscow meddled in the election and colluded with Trump's campaign.
Whitaker's appointment also raised legal questions, prompted court challenges, and renewed scrutiny of his past business practices.
He instead pointed to committee protocol restricting the amount of time for each members' question, as he tried to blow off that and another question Nadler asked about his oversight of Mueller's probe.
The Republican ranking member went after Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) for grilling Whitaker about whether or not a previous organization he ran had received money from foreign donors, The Hill reported - which Whitaker later responded to saying he doesn't believe it did, adding "our main donor was a US entity".
Whitaker testified he had never spoken with members of Trump's inner circle about his views on the probe as a private citizen before he joined the Justice Department.
Whitaker's conduct of dodging questions and appearing to stall frustrated Democrats. The testimony ended with Nadler warning that the answers Whitaker gave were insufficient. Whitaker refused to testify under threat of subpoena, but eventually backed down and agreed to appear before the panel Friday morning. But in this case the issue may become moot because the Senate is likely to confirm William Barr, Trump's nominee for attorney general, next week.More news: Oregon governor urges vaccines as measles cases grow to 55
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That drew a response from Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the committee. He declined to say if he still agreed with sharply critical comments about the Mueller investigation that he made as a television commentator before arriving at the Justice Department in the fall of 2017 as chief of staff to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
"I have, as I mentioned, six days left and I plan to take full advantage of that, including, as I said, at this hearing", Whitaker said as the proceedings entered a sixth hour.
The acting attorney general said that Mueller was would finish the probe "when he wants to finish his investigation". Keep in mind, Whitaker was willing to appear without the subpoena.
The dispute over Whitaker comes as Democrats leading other House panels also stepped up investigations of Trump and those around him, despite the president's warning in his State of the Union address on Tuesday that the nation's "economic miracle" could be stopped by "ridiculous partisan investigations".
It was unclear whether Whitaker would even show up until late Thursday night after weeks of disputes between the Department of Justice and the House Judiciary committee.
In his prepared opening statement, Whitaker said he meant to protect executive privilege involving his "deliberations or conversations" with the President, citing "long-standing executive branch policy". On Thursday, Democrats on the committee marked up a subpoena for possible use to compel his cooperation.
"I am not kidding when I say I have interviewed terrorists who were more cooperative and respectful than Matt Whitaker was today", Figliuzzi told host Nicolle Wallace.