Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker received gasps of astonishment when he told the head of the House Judiciary Committee at a testy hearing on Friday that his time for questioning had run out.
“In your capacity as Acting Attorney General, have you ever been asked to approve any request or action to be taken by the special counsel?” House Judiciary Chair Nadler asks.
— ABC News (@ABC) February 8, 2019
“Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up,” Whitaker told Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), a statement that drew groans and gasps at the packed committee hearing.
“I am here voluntarily. We have agreed to five minute rounds,” he added.
The Hill reports,
Nadler appeared to start laughing himself at what was a breach of protocol for a witness testifying before a congressional panel, as the ranking member of the committee said it would be a good time for a break in the proceedings.
Other lawmakers looked surprised at the quip. Rep. Jamie Raskin’s (D-Md.) jaw dropped.
Lawmakers routinely go over their five minute time limits for questioning, and it is normally up to the chair to limit the proceedings.
— Olivia Beavers (@Olivia_Beavers) February 8, 2019
It is very unusual for a witness to mention the time limit, and even more so for a witness to accuse the chairman of a panel of having gone over his time limit.
Whitaker’s quip came after Nadler, the first to question the acting attorney general, asked whether he has had a role in approving any “request or action to be taken by the special counsel.”
In response to Whitaker’s remark, Nadler said, “The committee will come to order. I will point out we didn’t enforce the five minute rule on acting Attorney General Whitaker.”