Other Democrats scolded Whitaker, with Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas, sternly telling him his humor was not appreciated.
Nadler and Democrats want to question Whitaker about how he got his job and the way he's overseen the investigation into Russia's attack on the 2016 presidential election being run by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Democrats who perceive Whitaker as a Trump loyalist were expected to ask him whether he has made any commitments to the president about Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation and whether he has shared with Trump any inside information.
But the antagonism between House Democrats and Whitaker was on full display throughout the hearing on Friday. He also said all Whitaker received the questions weeks ago so they would know ahead of time which were subject to executive privilege.
When asked why he didn't recuse himself from the investigation, Whitaker said a senior Department of Justice official told him it was a "close call", but ultimately the decision was his to make.
Republican Doug Collins assailed the objective for the hearing and unsuccessfully called for it to be adjourned.
Nor should it. To say that Whitaker's tenure as acting attorney general has been an embarrassment to the nation is an understatement. But Trump had set the tone in his State of the Union address when he decried "ridiculous partisan investigations" and seemed to some to tie the prospect of advancing legislation to whether Congress stopped investigating his administration.
They are calling him to testify even though his time leading the Justice Department is ending, with the Senate expected this month to confirm Trump's nominee for attorney general, William Barr. When pressed on Friday if he considered the investigation a witch-hunt, he said it would be "inappropriate" to comment on an ongoing investigation.
Whitaker: "Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up".
"If you play nice, President Trump has shown plenty of willingness to publicly go after his own people", Axios continued. I ask the department to work with the committee to provide them. When Nadler gaveled the hearing into a five-minute recess, Whitaker said into an open mic: "Five minutes for lunch?"
"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?" That referred to the time limits for questions - one normally addressed by lawmakers, not witnesses.
Democrats said they would inquire about Whitaker's past business dealings, too. Nadler said that as late as last week the committee had received reports that some at the department were counseling Whitaker not to appear.
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