Mr Whitaker, even while expressing exasperation at the questioning by Democrats, nonetheless sought to assuage their concerns by saying he had never discussed with Mr Trump or other White House officials special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.
Whitaker, who had been appointed last November by President Trump after Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned under pressure, threatened not testify before the committee if he was subpoenaed. "There has been no event, no decision, that has required me to take any action, and I have not interfered in any way with the special counsel's investigation".
Democrats became increasingly agitated at what they saw as Whitaker's efforts to run out the clock and control the hearing process.
The hearing quickly turned contentious before Whitaker even had a chance to speak.
"The chairman has made the commitment that we requested, and agreed that, if Mr. Whitaker voluntarily appears at tomorrow's hearing, the committee will not issue a subpoena on or before February 8", spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement.
Answering questions from Nadler, Whitaker said he hasn't spoken with Mr. Trump or senior White House officials about the Mueller probe.
"The time for this administration to postpone accountability is over", Nadler said.More news: Denton County Public Health reports first case of measles
"Congressman, I'm not a puppet to repeat what you're saying", Whitaker said.
After opening statements Mr Collins called a vote on the motion to dismiss the hearing before questions had even begun, but it failed to pass.
But after Collins raised the claim that CNN had been tipped off of the arrest by federal authorities, Whitaker said he did not "know of any other special counsel's office notice or DOJ notice to media outlets of Mr". Whitaker is still the nation's top law enforcement officer until the Senate confirms attorney general nominee William Barr. "The rules are that you are here, so I need to ask the question, and I need to have my time restored so that you can behave appropriately". "This is a responsibility we take very seriously", Nadler said.
And things got complicated on Thursday, after the House Judiciary Committee authorized a subpoena for Whitaker, which Chair Jerrold Nadler said he would use only if Whitaker refused to answer the committee's questions.
Differences over a barrier were the crux of a dispute between Democrats and Trump that led to the recent partial government shutdown - and the government could shut down again unless negotiators can make progress on a deal to fund the Department of Homeland Security.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has also announced a sweeping investigation into Mr Trump's actions as president, and has hired former White House staff members to aid in the probe.
"Obviously, Whitaker wants to avoid answering certain questions, which will be hard for him to do if Nadler subpoenas him", he said.
The dispute over Whitaker comes as Democrats leading other House panels also stepped up investigations of Trump and those around him, despite the president's warning in his State of the Union address on Tuesday that the nation's "economic miracle" could be stopped by "ridiculous partisan investigations".