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Whitaker's prepared testimony covered a range of Justice Department accomplishments, along with his intent not to discuss issues covered by executive privilege.

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted to authorize a subpoena for Whitaker ahead of his Friday testimony.

"Prior to Attorney General Jeff Sessions's firing, did you discuss or share your private opinion of the special counsel's investigation with [then-Chief of Staff John Kelly], Trump family members, and others?"

"The Acting Attorney General will testify that at no time did the White House ask for, or did the Acting Attorney General provide, any promises or commitments concerning the Special Counsel's investigation", Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd writes in the new letter obtained by CNN. Despite previously telling reporters that Mueller's investigation was "close to being completed," Whitaker said he could not answer questions about ongoing investigations. In his opening statement, Nadler criticized Whitaker's decision not to recuse himself from the Mueller probe, despite the recommendations of Justice Department officials.

Whitaker has been undertaking significant preparations ahead of the hearing, including conducting briefings with every DOJ component and participating in several mock hearings, according to the officials. Whitaker couldn't walk into the hearing and say he was surprised by the questions and couldn't answer because the president needs time.

Committee members are allotted five minutes to ask questions of Whitaker, or any other witness testifying, but those five minutes are monitored by the Chair and can be fluid. He could answer the question that he didn't have a conversation, but did somebody else?

The Daily Wire's Emily Zanotti noted, "CNN reports that Whitaker has been "fully briefed" on Mueller's investigation and that he anticipates a swift end to the probe".

After Whitaker's statement, Collins said Nadler had overplayed his hand. "The department's failure to do its due diligence to me is deeply troubling", he said.

Trump pushes border wall fight ahead of State of the Union speech
He was released in January as the first person granted clemency by the bipartisan First Step Program, the White House has said. Trump invited an elderly Jewish man who survived the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.

Nadler then said his time was expired and recognized Collins to begin his questioning.

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.

The exchange grew more contentious when Whitaker flatly refused to answer Nadler when he asked whether Whitaker's approval had ever been requested for action by Mueller's probe.

Cohen asked Whitaker whether he has seen any documentation alleging violations of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution when it comes to President Trump's connection to the organization leasing the building.

"This subpoena is nothing short of political theater, choreographed by the chairman and starring the acting attorney general as some mythological protector of secrets", said Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the panel. "But, to answer your questions, I have not talked to the president about the special counsel's investigation".

Differences over a barrier were the crux of a dispute between Democrats and Trump that led to the recent partial government shutdown - and the government could shut down again unless negotiators can make progress on a deal to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

Swalwell: The president has called him conflicted.