Three Democratic US Senators Sue to Block Whitaker Appointment

Three Democratic US Senators Sue to Block Whitaker Appointment

Three Democratic US Senators Sue to Block Whitaker Appointment

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker's appointment will have "no effect" on legal work now underway by special counsel Robert Mueller, prosecutors say.

"The validity of the Special Counsel's appointment at that time can not be retroactively affected by a change in the official who is serving as the Acting Attorney General in November 2018", the prosecutors wrote.

After President Donald Trump appointed Whitaker to take control of the Justice Department - and the Mueller probe - the federal appeals court asked both sides to weigh in on whether the appointment alters the case.

Three Democratic senators have filed a lawsuit on Monday over the appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, claiming to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that President Donald Trump's pick is unconstitutional.

The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel issued a 20-page opinion last week arguing that Whitaker's appointment was legitimate, while conceding that the last time that the acting attorney general wasn't Senate-confirmed was in 1866, before the creation of the DOJ.

The Justice Department issued a statement Monday defending Whitaker's appointment as "lawful" and said it comports with the Appointments Clause, the Federal Vacancies Reform Act and legal precedent.

Blumenthal has previously sued Trump, alleging the president violated the Constitution's emoluments clause, which bars presidents from taking payments from foreign states.

"The U.S. Senate has not consented to Mr. Whitaker serving in any office within the federal government", it stated.

Trump has said there is "no rush" to name a new attorney general, and the Justice Department has concluded the move is legal and constitutional.

The senators argued that Rosenstein, a Senate-confirmed Trump appointee who installed Mueller as special counsel in May 2017, should be the acting attorney general until a Sessions replacement is nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

But now Rosenstein has had to step aside from overseeing Mueller, leaving that power to Whitaker. 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. A very respected person. It also cited an 1898 Supreme Court opinion and numerous historical examples in support of the proposition that an office whose holder must normally be Senate-confirmed can be temporarily filled by an acting official who has not gone through the confirmation process. "He's going to do what's right", the president said.

Last week, litigants in two pending, unrelated lawsuits against Sessions in his official capacity submitted motions asking judges to declare that by law, Rosenstein should be his rightful acting successor and so his name, not Whitaker's, should be substituted as the defendant in the litigation.

"President Trump's brazen attempt to flout the law and constitution in bypassing Deputy US Attorney General Rosenstein in favor of a partisan and unqualified staffer can not stand", Maryland state Attorney General Brian Frosh said.

It appears Mueller is filing this in an attempt to head off any attempt by Miller or his lawyer to use the Whitaker appointment against Mueller in appellate court.

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