However, he said, "I have not spoken to the president about the special counsel's investigation".
"There has been no event, no decision that has required me to take any action", Whitaker told the House Judiciary Committee Friday morning.
Republican Doug Collins assailed the goal for the hearing and unsuccessfully called for it to be adjourned.
"Bring your popcorn", he said.
Nadler said the hearing was crucial for lawmakers to get answers to questions about Whitaker's role at the Department of Justice and his appointment. "I have and will continue to manage this investigation in a manner that is consistent with the governing regulations".
The retort came after Nadler had chastised Whitaker for evading questions and said that he wanted Whitaker to appear before the committee "in the coming weeks" for a private deposition.
Whitaker, frequently smirking, later made a similar comment to another Democrat on the committee, Sheila Jackson Lee, prompting a fierce admonishment. "You've only got five days left on the job". "You'd stop a witch hunt, wouldn't you?" A full Senate is expected to confirm Barr as President Donald Trump's chief law enforcement officer next week.
Nadler had been asking Whitaker about how much influence he had over Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose secretive Russia-related probe is nearing the end of its second year.
"Have you ever been asked to approve any request or action to be taken by the special counsel?"
"Congressman, I am not here to be a puppet to repeat terms and words that you say that I should say", Whitaker told Swalwell Friday. He also signaled that he would give limited answers about the investigation itself. At another point, he asked Nadler "what is the basis" for a question.
Whitaker found himself in yet another standoff later as Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) attempted to ask a question about Whitaker's previous charity work.
Jordan and conservative Republicans have sought unsuccessfully to gain access to the mostly redacted three-page memo that lays out the parameters of the special counsel's investigation.
Democrats said they would inquire about Whitaker's past business dealings, too. But when Jordan asked him whether specific names were in the document - which Jordan charged would go against Justice Department policy - Whitaker demurred.
Whitaker said late last month that Mueller's investigation is "close to being completed", although there has been no confirmation of this from the special counsel's office.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who Trump effectively fired in November, had recused from overseeing the Russian Federation investigation. A few hours later, the Senate Committee voted to send Barr's nomination to the floor. The letter declared Whitaker wouldn't appear before the panel, unless members withdrew a subpoena, compelling his testimony.
Whitaker laid the groundwork for a likely tussle with Democrats by saying in his opening statement that while he would address their questions, he would not reveal details of his communications with Trump.
"Ultimately, the decision whether or not to recuse was my decision".
Committee members are allotted five minutes to ask questions of Whitaker, or any other witness testifying, but those five minutes are monitored by the Chair and can be fluid. Collins exclaimed. "This hearing is not about what the good men and women of the Department of Justice are doing".
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