Democratic senators sue over Trump attorney general appointment

Whitaker in the past criticised the scope of Mueller's probe and brought up the possibility of undermining it by slashing the special counsel's funding

WASHINGTON ― Three sitting United States senators have filed a lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of President Donald Trump's appointment of Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker following the forced resignation of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) also filed the suit.

Mueller, who was appointed as special counsel by Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein (given Sessions' recusal), reminds us that he is now facing three legal challenges to his authority: First, "whether Congress vested the Attorney General with statutory authority to appoint Special Counsels, consistent with the Constitution's Appointments Clause"; second, whether he is a "principal" or "inferior" officer as defined by the Constitution (his opponents argue he is a principal officer who needed to be confirmed by the Senate); third, whether Rosenstein as Deputy Attorney General had the authority to appoint Mueller as special counsel.

"Consistent with our prior opinion and with centuries of historical practice and precedents, we advised that the president's designation of Mr. Whitaker as acting attorney general on a temporary basis did not transform his position into a principal officer requiring Senate confirmation", Assistant Attorney General Steven A. Engel wrote in a memo. The attorney in that case, Thomas Goldstein, asked the high court to find that Whitaker's appointment is unconstitutional and replace him with deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.

As Common Dreams reported, Trump immediately selected Whitaker as acting attorney general after he fired previous Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this month.

Whitaker in the past criticised the scope of Mueller's probe and brought up the possibility of undermining it by slashing the special counsel's funding.

Trump dismissed concerns about how Whitaker will deal with the Mueller investigation, but said that he, as president, would not intervene.

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While the Justice Department has predictably defended Trump's appointment of Whitaker as legal, Sen. "He's a very smart person, a very respected person", Trump said.

Whitaker has a deeply partisan career track record, has criticized the Mueller investigation and has even said judges should be Christian and take "a biblical view of justice". He's going to do what's right.

It was the second challenge in one week to Whitaker's appointment.

Responding to a petition to the Supreme Court to declare Whitaker's appointment illegal, department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said it is consistent with laws governing presidential appointments of top-level officials and 'comports with. actions of U.S. presidents, both Republican and Democrat'.

Last Tuesday the state of Maryland asked a federal judge to block Whitaker from acting on behalf of the department in an ongoing court case on health care policy, likewise arguing that he had not been approved by the Senate. Donald Trump can not subvert the Constitution to protect himself and evade accountability.

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