The gallery at the House Judiciary Committee hearing Friday during which Democrats peppered acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker with questions about FBI special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation literally gasped.
Whitaker was willing to travel up to Capitol Hill and talk to lawmakers voluntarily, the Justice Department said - but not under subpoena, and he demanded a guarantee on Thursday that Nadler not slap him with a subpoena at the hearing in the event he didn't answer a question.
After previously refusing to appear before the House Judiciary Committee unless it withdrew the subpoena threat, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker agreed to testify before the committee on Friday.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep.
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's highly anticipated testimony had been in limbo after the Democratic-led committee approved a tentative subpoena to ensure that he appeared and answered questions. "Mr. Chairman", he said, "I see that your five minutes is up".
The chamber erupted in laughter and murmurs after an exchange in which Whitaker tried to avoid answering Nadler by reminding him of the time limit on questioning.
The only other staffer present during the Mueller briefing was Gregg Scott, US attorney from the eastern district of California, Mr Whitaker said.
"Such unprecedented action breaches our prior agreement and circumvents the constitutionally required accommodation process", Whitaker said in a statement.
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"On November 14, 2018, as the incoming chairmen of the four House committees of jurisdiction, we sent a letter requesting that you produce eight categories of documents relating to your work on behalf of World Patent Marketing and your communications with Scott Cooper, the company's CEO and founder", the letter said.
In a statement on Thursday night, Kerri Kupec, a Whitaker spokeswoman, said that the acting attorney general had been assured that Nadler would not issue a subpoena "on or before February 8".
Collins, however, believes the fiasco is simply House Democrats' way of holding their own confirmation hearing for Whitaker and told them they should have run for Senate instead if that's what they're interested in doing.
"He will come back, because we will use a subpoena if we have to", he said.
In one case, he refused to answer Democratic congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee's questions with a yes or no, and made a flippant remark about whether the time she had lost on the clock had been restored before he answered her questions.
Nadler gave the question in advance to give Trump time to actually invoke the privilege.
Whitaker also denied media reports that Trump lashed out at him after learning his former lawyer and personal fixer Michael Cohen was pleading guilty for lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow.