Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Senate Democrats Sue to Block Whitaker From Serving as Acting Attorney General

Senate Dems sue to block Trump’s ‘unconstitutional’ appointment of acting AG Matt Whitaker: report Senate Democrats File Lawsuit Challenging Trump's Appointment Of Matt Whitaker
Jeannette Daniel | 19 November, 2018, 22:57

Denouncing President Donald Trump's appointment of acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker-a fervent critic of the Russian Federation probe-as a blatant effort to "subvert the Constitution to protect himself and evade accountability", three Democratic senators on Monday filed suit against the White House and demanded that Whitaker be barred from temporarily serving as the nation's top law enforcement official.

Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island filed the suit on November 19, arguing that Whitaker's appointment violates the Constitution because he hasn't yet been confirmed by the Senate. "As all three branches of government have long recognized, the President may designate an acting official to perform the duties of a vacant principal office, including a Cabinet office, even when the acting official has not been confirmed by the Senate", the opinion stated.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec, responding to another lawsuit challenging Whitaker's appointment that was filed on Friday, said in a statement on Monday that Whitaker's appointment "is lawful and comports with the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Supreme Court precedent, past Department of Justice opinions, and actions of U.S. Presidents, both Republican and Democrat".

"This Office previously had advised that the President could designate a senior Department of Justice Official, such as Mr. Whitaker as Acting Attorney General", the Office of Legal Counsel wrote, saying he's been at the DOJ "at a sufficiently senior pay level for over a year".

Rosenstein, the second-ranking Justice Department official, has been confirmed by the Senate and had been overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation. Whitaker is now overseeing the investigation. All three are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is tasked with holding confirmation hearings for the attorney general role.

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"He's a very smart person". Many legal experts have disagreed with the department's view. "He's going to do what's right", the president said.

They said that his questionable appointment could destabilize any federal court case in the country, and said Rosenstein instead should represent the department.

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.

"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.

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