Acting US attorney general says he has not interfered with Russia probe

Mr Whitaker, President Donald Trump's pick to temporarily fill the top justice department role, added there had been "no change in the overall management" of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

At 9:30 a.m. ET, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the committee's ranking Republican, said the hearing was "nothing more than a character assassination" and an attempt to "get at the president". "We're all trying figure out who are you, where did you come from and how the heck did you become the head of the Department of Justice".

Asked whether he had ever been asked to approve any request or action by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, Whitaker refused to answer.

The tone of the hearing had been teased on Thursday when Nadler threatened to subpoena Whitaker, while the DOJ threatened to boycott the hearing. "You see what happened at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, they're all gone, but there's a lingering stench and we're going to get rid of that too'". He then asked whether she was permitted to continue with her questioning despite going over her five-minute limit.

In response to recusal questions from Democrats, Mr Whitaker has repeated: "It was my decision to make".

"It was deeply concerning to me how CNN found out about that", Whitaker said, noting that no other media outlets appeared to be tipped off.

Last month, Whitaker publicly said that the Mueller probe is "close to being completed". He said that he has run the Justice Department to the best of his ability, with "fidelity to the law and to the Constitution" and had never given any promises.

The Acting Attorney General also told the Chairman he will be invoking executive privilege if asked about any conversations with President Trump. Nadler reminded Whitaker that the committee had submitted questions relating to the special counsel investigation and was waiting on answers. He called it an act of political theater and at one point seemingly tried to make his discontent clear. In the end, Nadler backed down and Whitaker agreed to appear.

Whitaker is directly overseeing the Mueller-led investigation, which has focused on possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow during the 2016 USA presidential elections and whether the president obstructed justice, among other things.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has also announced a sweeping investigation into Mr Trump's actions as president, and has hired former White House staff members to aid in the probe.

Whitaker defended by saying, "We have followed the special counsel's regulations to a T".

Whitaker has come under scrutiny for his involvement with the invention promotion company, which was accused of misleading consumers and has been under investigation by the FBI.

Raskin delved into Whitaker's activities prior to being appointed to his current temporary position by President Trump, who fired former Attorney General Jeff Sessions after the 2018 midterms. But when Jordan asked him whether specific names were in the document - which Jordan charged would go against Justice Department policy - Whitaker demurred.

Vanessa Coleman