Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker fired back when Democratic California Rep. Eric Swalwell tried to corner him during Friday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing.
“Congressman, I’m not a puppet to repeat what you’re saying,” Whitaker said. (RELATED: ‘They Just Want A Piece Of You’: Rep. Doug Collins Gives A Reality Check To Whitaker Hearing)
Swalwell, who primarily questioned Whitaker with regard to the Mueller investigation, began by asking whether the acting AG felt as though Mueller were an honest man.
Swalwell: Is Mr. Mueller honest? Do you believe his honest, yes or no?
Whitaker: I have no reason to believe he’s not honest, so, yes, I do believe he’s honest.
Swalwell: The president has called him conflicted. The president’s called him conflicted and you oversee the investigation, do you believe that Mr. Mueller’s conflicted.
Whitaker: … As I sit here today, I don’t have any reason to believe that.
Swalwell then put everything together, asking Whitaker whether he would deliver that assessment to President Donald Trump. “So you don’t believe — you believe he’s honest, you don’t believe he’s conflicted,” Swalwell began. “Can you say right now, Mr. President, Bob Mueller is honest and not conflicted?”
Whitaker fired back, “Congressman, I’m not a puppet to repeat what you’re saying.”
But Swalwell kept pushing. “Are you able to say it or do you not believe it?” he asked.
Whitaker stood by his prior statement, saying, “I have answered your question as to what I believe about the special counsel.”
Swalwell tried one more time, “Can you say it to the president, though?”
“Congressman, I am not here to be a puppet to repeat terms and words that you say that I should say,” Whitaker said again.