Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker testified before the House Judiciary Committee Friday, the latest development in a day of drama between House Democrats and the Department of Justice.
REWATCH THE HEARING BELOW
Whitaker’s hearing is probably going to be a contentious affair. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have a lot of questions for Whitaker; the hearing on Friday was set to be the first high-profile oversight hearing into the Trump administration since Democrats retook the majority.
And things got complicated on Thursday, after the House Judiciary Committee authorized a subpoena for Whitaker, which Chair Jerrold Nadler said he would use only if Whitaker refused to answer the committee’s questions.
But Whitaker fired back, saying through a letter from the Justice Department that he would not testify at all if the committee issued a subpoena. The DOJ demanded a response from Nadler, in writing, by 6 pm Thursday.
“I remain willing to appear to testify tomorrow, provided that the chairman assures me that the committee will not issue a subpoena today or tomorrow, and that the committee will engage in good faith negotiations before taking such a step down the road,” Whitaker said in a statement.
Nadler added that the committee would handle Whitaker’s concerns over specific questions “on a case-by-case basis.”
Nadler’s response seemed to be an attempt to de-escalate the confrontation between House Democrats and Whitaker without completely backing down. And it appears to have worked: A few hours later, Nadler confirmed on Twitter that Whitaker would attend the hearing on Friday.
Read Whitaker’s prepared remarks to the House Judiciary Committee below.
More to come…
House Passes $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Bill
(CNN) — The House of Representatives on Friday approved a historic $2 trillion coronavirus response stimulus package, clearing the way for President Trump’s signature.
The far-reaching legislation stands as the largest emergency aid package in US history. It injects a massive financial boost into a struggling economy with provisions aimed at helping American workers, small businesses and industries grappling with the economic disruption.
Key elements of the package include sending checks directly to individuals and families, an expansion of unemployment benefits, money for hard-hit hospitals and health care providers, financial assistance for small businesses and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies.
“No bill is perfect, but we want to make sure that it at least comes near part of the way to being sufficient,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor. She said she is already working towards a fourth coronavirus response measure: “We know that this cannot be our final bill.”
A bipartisan swath of lawmakers passed the stimulus package by voice vote, a process commonly used in the House for uncontroversial measures, after Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie attempted to force a full roll call vote — a scenario that had members scrambling to get back to the Capitol from around the country on Friday.
Congressional leaders blocked Massie’s effort, saying an insufficient number of members supported his request. A quorum of the House — 216 members — was needed to block Massie’s attempt. Members who made it to DC for the debate attempted to maintain social distancing, with some staying on the House floor while others sat in the upstairs gallery above the chamber, where the public usually sits.
Essentially, hundreds of lawmakers traveled to the Capitol in the 24 hours leading up to the vote, not to hold a full vote, but in order to prevent a full vote from happening. If a roll call vote had been taken, it would have been very slow: members would have voted in alphabetical groups in order to limit their social interactions.
Massie wrote on Twitter ahead of the showdown that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy worked together “to block a recorded vote just to insulate members of Congress from ACCOUNTABILITY.”
“Biggest spending bill in the history of mankind, and no recorded vote? #SWAMP,” he said.
Prince Charles Tests Positive For Coronavirus
The Prince of Wales has tested positive for coronavirus, Clarence House has confirmed.
A spokesperson said the prince was “displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual”.
The Duchess of Cornwall has tested negative for coronavirus and is self isolating with Prince Charles
Prince Charles had contact 10 days ago with Prince Albert of Monaco who had tested positive for coronavirus.