House Democrats hire Obama ethics czar for oversight of Trump, DOJ
Norm Eisen will advise House Judiciary Committee as it investigates Trump and his Justice Department

Chairman Jerrold Nadler prepares to conduct the House Judiciary Committee markup of a resolution authorizing issuance of a subpoena to Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Former Obama administration ethics czar Norm Eisen has been hired by the House Judiciary Committee as it probes the Department of Justice and other aspects of the Trump administration and seeks to shield the special counsel investigation into Russian election interference.

Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York has said that protecting the Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into the 2016 election, including possible ties between the Trump campaign team and Russia, is the committee’s No. 1 priority.

Through Whitaker, Trump officially declares war on House oversight
In acting AG’s letter to House Judiciary, administration indicates it will resist disclosing president’s conversations with aides

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker leaves the House chamber Tuesday after President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS — The Trump administration on Thursday moved its first chess piece in what is expected to be a contentious match between the White House and House Democrats as the latter seek documents and testimony for their oversight investigations of the president and his Cabinet.

In a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler on Thursday, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said he would bail on his scheduled hearing on Friday unless Nadler assured him he would not file a subpoena to compel Whitaker to disclose his conversations with the president on hot-button topics or force Whitaker to invoke “executive privilege.”

Whitaker will skip House hearing if Democrats don’t pull subpoena threat
Judiciary Chairman Nadler wants to keep subpoena in his back pocket in case it’s needed

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said he hopes not to have to use a subpoena to compel testimony from acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, but “Unfortunately a series of troubling events over the last few months suggest that we should be prepared.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said he will bail on his scheduled testimony in the House Judiciary Committee on Friday unless Democrats assure him they will not file the subpoena they voted to authorize along party lines on Thursday.

At the heart of the disagreement — and why Democrats green-lighted the preemptive subpoena-in-reserve in the first place — is Democrats’ wariness that Whitaker will avoid answering certain questions about his communications with President Donald Trump about the special counsel investigation of Robert S. Mueller III and other hot-button issues by citing, without effectively asserting, “executive privilege.”

Whitaker hearing is first big test of Trump’s ‘executive privilege’ strategy
Acting attorney general will be first White House official to be questioned by new Congress

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is expected to get a number of questions from the House Judiciary Committee about any conversations he had with White House officials, including the president, about his role overseeing the special counsel investigation. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s testimony at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Friday will offer a first glimpse into how the Trump administration plans to comply with — or stall — House Democrats’ oversight inquiries.

The hearing, slated for 9:30 a.m., will put to the test the White House counsel’s strategy for invoking executive privilege on certain conversations between the president and his close advisers.

Capitol Ink | Vandal in Chief

Trump blasts Schiff after Intelligence chair vows to investigate the president
Trump’s comments come on the heels of Schiff’s announcement that Intelligence will investigate the president’s campaign and finances

President Donald Trump is seen in the House Chamber after his State of the Union address on Tuesday, February 5, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump escalated his State of the Union threat to Democrats Wednesday when blasted House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, and suggested the California Democrat lacks any “basis” to launch a sweeping investigation of the president’s campaign and personal finances.

“Under what basis would he do that? He has no basis to do that,” Trump told reporters after an event to announce his World Bank presidential nominee.

Pelosi said she took Trump’s SOTU line about investigations as an ‘all-out threat’
‘If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation,’ Trump said in address

Speaker Nancy Pelosi shakes hands with President Donald Trump before his State of the Union address on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi was visibly appalled at much of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, but there was one particular line that seemed to be bugging her the next morning: “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.”

“It was a threat. It was an all-out threat,” the California Democrat told reporters Wednesday morning.

Capitol Ink | Subpoenas at the Gate

Road ahead: State of the Union, plus Cohen, Barr, Whitaker and Trump tax returns
Legislating will not be the focus of the week for the House or Senate

House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., has announced his panel will be hearing from Michael Cohen this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Normally, the State of the Union address would dominate this week’s headlines on Capitol Hill — but it just might be overshadowed by what’s scheduled to happen at the end of the week.

On Friday, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing with acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and the Intelligence Committee will conduct a closed-door deposition of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer.