A security expert and former Obama administration official explained Saturday morning that in spite of citing "executive privilege" during his testimony Friday, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker may have weakened the Trump administration's use of the standard.
In a thread about the hearing, Just Security founding editor Andy Wright noted that the House Judiciary Committee "now has a better understanding of [the Justice Department's] legal position on privilege related to communications between Whitaker and Trump."
Whitaker did indeed cite the privilege during his testimony before the newly-Democrat-controlled committee — but only after claiming he's never been asked by the White House to make "any promises or commitments concerning the special counsel investigation, or any other investigation."
WHITAKER: "At no time has the White House asked for nor have I provided any promises or commitments concerning the… https://t.co/yx8dQFa28c— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1549638249.0
"Whitaker's characterization of conversations with Trump he will not further disclose exposes him to a Committee finding he has waived privilege," Wright noted, "and likely weakened the executive branch legal position on [the] waiver before a court."
The former House Oversight Committee aide went on to add that although the acting AG's "contemptuous behavior" during the hearing, including his reminder to House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) that he was over his time limit, "may excite" Trump's base, but will also "have long term negative consequences" for Whitaker and the DOJ.
Check out the whole thread below:
2) One central function of a hearing is to make the executive branch official give reasons for government conduct—t… https://t.co/s9CLb2SfqR— Andy Wright (@Andy Wright) 1549727711.0
...had the effect of hyping the expectations of that Perry Mason moment. 4) In addition, as a congressional inves… https://t.co/erDthCyWF5— Andy Wright (@Andy Wright) 1549727712.0
6) HJC now has a better understanding of DOJ’s legal position on privilege related to communications between Whitak… https://t.co/rlTTNqBhw3— Andy Wright (@Andy Wright) 1549727714.0
...and likely weakened the executive branch legal position on waiver before a court. 8) Whitaker’s contemptuous b… https://t.co/Iu7XE8dMaf— Andy Wright (@Andy Wright) 1549727714.0