- Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was reportedly spotted at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC hours after he testified to Congress about his oversight of the Justice Department.
- Whitaker has faced intense scrutiny for his coziness with the White House, as well as his public criticisms of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, which he now oversees.
- Whitaker has been briefed on the probe, but he denies having relayed any information about it to Trump, his lawyers, or his associates.
- The hotel he went to is also at the center of a lawsuit against Trump alleging that he’s violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC just hours after testifying to Congress about his oversight of the Justice Department, The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman reported.
The news raised eyebrows among some who have criticised Whitaker for getting cosy with President Donald Trump while also overseeing an FBI investigation into Trump.
The hotel Whitaker went to is also at the center of a lawsuit against Trump alleging that he’s violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which prohibits federal officials from accepting gifts or other payments from foreign entities.
It’s unclear why Whitaker was at the Trump International Hotel. Shortly before appearing at the Republican hot-spot, he appeared on Capitol Hill to testify to the House Judiciary Committee about his role at the Justice Department, special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, and his relationship with Trump.
The president often derides the Russia investigation and has accused the special counsel of going on a politically motivated “witch hunt” against him and his associates.
When Trump tapped Whitaker to be acting attorney general last year, Democratic lawmakers raised concerns that he did so in an effort to sideline Mueller’s investigation. Whitaker, for his part, has a long history of publicly criticising Mueller and the Russia probe, and he once mused about financially gutting the investigation to hamstring prosecutors.
On Friday, however, Whitaker said the investigation “is proceeding consistent with the regulations that outline why the appointment happened, consistent with [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein’s appointment.”
The comment stood in stark contrast to Trump’s and his allies’ claims about the special counsel.
Whitaker also testified that he did not brief Trump, senior White House staff, or third party individuals about matters related to the Mueller probe. He was less forthcoming when asked whether he shared any of his personal opinions or criticisms of Mueller with Trump, his legal team, or any other associates prior to being appointed acting attorney general.
“I can assure this committee that before appointing me to this position, the president did not ask for, and I did not provide, any commitments, promises concerning the special counsel’s investigation, or any other investigation -” Whitaker began, before Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren cut him off.
“That’s not the question I asked, sir,” Lofgren said, before saying her time was about to expire.
After being pressed, Whitaker replied that he did not discuss his opinions about Mueller with Trump or any other White House officials or allies when he was a private citizen.
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