Published: Tue, November 20, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Supreme Court asked to block appointment of Whitaker as AG

Supreme Court asked to block appointment of Whitaker as AG

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.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who filed the lawsuit, are being represented by the groups Protect Democracy and the Constitutional Accountability Center. The motion argues that as the Senate-confirmed Deputy Attorney General, Rosenstein automatically succeeded to the role of Acting Attorney General under 28 USC § 508 (a) and the Appointments Clause in Article II of the Constitution.

Whitaker's appointment sparked outrage from Democrats due to the acting attorney general's previous comments criticizing special council Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and the Trump campaign's involvement. The attorney, Thomas Goldstein, asked the court to find that Whitaker's appointment is unconstitutional and replace him with Rosenstein.

Earlier this month, a panel of three D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals judges presiding over the case heard opening arguments in the matter just 24 hours after President Donald Trump's dismissal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Many analysts believe Whitaker was chosen to protect Trump from the Russian Federation collusion investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who will now be under Whitaker's control.

Trump has answered written questions from Mueller about his campaign's connections with Russian Federation during the run-up to the November 2016 voting, but told Wallace he "probably" won't sit for an in-person interview with Mueller's investigators.

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Sessions had recused himself from the probe, handing the responsibility to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was confirmed by the Senate.

The White House and the Justice Department both argue that the appointment was legal.

"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. He's a very smart person.

President Trump told Fox News on November 18 that Whitaker is free to make decisions on how to handle Mueller's probe. He's going to do what's right.

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 USA presidents, both Republican and Democrat'.

It was the second challenge in one week to Whitaker's appointment. Donald Trump can not subvert the Constitution to protect himself and evade accountability.

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