Democratic Senators Sue Over Matthew Whitaker's Acting AG Appointment

by Garry Watts November 22, 2018, 2:05
Democratic Senators Sue Over Matthew Whitaker's Acting AG Appointment

Three Democratic senators filed a lawsuit on Monday accusing U.S. President Donald Trump of illegally appointing Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, saying Trump violated the Constitution and denied the Senate its right to approve the nomination. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) filed the suit, which marks the latest and most aggressive court challenge against the appointee to date.

"Americans prize a system of checks and balances, which President Trump's dictatorial appointment betrays", Blumenthal said in a statement. Check back for updates.

Individuals and state governments with pending lawsuits against the Justice Department may also be able to challenge Whitaker's authority.

The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel issued a 20-page legal opinion last week defending the appointment as legal, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week blocked two senators from bringing up legislation to protect Mueller's investigation from any efforts by the Trump administration to thwart it. Whitaker, who has been critical of the Russian Federation investigation, is now overseeing it.

The suit is the fourth legal challenge of Trump's appointment of Whitaker, following the ouster earlier this month of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom Trump had long disparaged for removing himself from oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. "In selecting a so-called "constitutional nobody" and thwarting every senator's constitutional duty, Trump leaves us no choice but to seek recourse through the courts".

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While the Justice Department has predictably defended Trump's appointment of Whitaker as legal, Sen.

The Justice Department memo pointed to various examples of such a temporary appointment dating back to the earliest days of US history, although it acknowledged that there was very little precedent for an acting attorney general who did not undergo confirmation.

"Acting Attorney General Whitaker's designation neither alters the Special Counsel's authority to represent the United States nor raises any jurisdictional issue", Mueller's team wrote in its filing, The Hill reported.

"There are over 160 instances in American history in which non-Senate confirmed persons performed, on a temporary basis, the duties of a Senate-confirmed position", a Justice Department spokeswoman said. "To suggest otherwise is to ignore centuries of practice and precedent". "I think he's astute politically".

Even though no challenge of Mueller's authority has up to now been successful, George Papadopoulos, the former Trump foreign policy advisor guilty of lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, recently revealed he was hopeful that Miller's appeal would be "successful", so that it would be shown that Mueller "lacked constitutional authority" to prosecute him in the first place. "And I would certainly call on my colleagues right now to avoid the constitutional crisis, take action now, speak out against this appointment". In 2014, he led the unsuccessful campaign of Sam Clovis, Trump's 2016 campaign co-chairman, for Iowa state treasurer; Clovis is now a grand jury witness in the Mueller probe.

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