House Judiciary Chair threatens subpoenas if acting Attorney General refuses to answer questions about Trump obstructing Mueller
Matthew Whitaker [Photo: screengrab from video]

The chair of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday publicly released a fascinating letter sent to acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker.

The letter from Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) included three major news items as the committee seeks to "protect the work of special counsel Robert Mueller from undue influence or interference by the president of the United States."

First, the letter warned of subpoenas if Whitaker does not answer questions during a February 8 committee hearing.

"My hope is that you will answer these questions voluntarily so that the committee can avoid resorting to compulsory process."

Second, Nadler sought to shut down Whitaker raising questions of executive privilege during the hearing by providing the questions in advance.

"If President Trump plans to invoke executive privilege to prevent you from answering any of these questions, I ask that you notify the committee in writing no later than 48 hours in advance of the hearing," Nader requested.

Third, Nadler listed scenarios in which the committee would not accept Whitaker declining to answer questions.

"The committee will not accept your declining to answer any question on the theory that the president may want to invoke his privileges in the future," Nadler warned. "Similarly, I would view with considerable skepticism any effort to decline to answer on the basis that the inquiry is related to an ongoing criminal investigation."

Nadler said, "the questions I have provided related to whether there has been interference in the special counsel's work. They do not relate to the underlying substance of the investigation."

The letter included 23 questions on obstruction of the special counsel.