Robert Mueller Breaks Silence on Matthew Whitaker’s Designation as Acting Attorney General

Hugh Fox
November 20, 2018

Three Democratic senators filed a lawsuit on Monday accusing Donald Trump of illegally appointing Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, saying the president violated the US Constitution and denied the Senate its right to approve the nomination.

Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii filed the lawsuit Monday in a federal court in Washington. 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.

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

"Acting Attorney General Whitaker's designation neither alters the Special Counsel's authority to represent the United States nor raises any jurisdictional issue".

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Miller is fighting a subpoena to testify before the grand jury in Mueller's Russian Federation 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".

Democrats have railed against Whitaker since Trump appointed him to the role, saying that Whitaker - who has publicly and forcefully criticized special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation - was chosen to thwart the Russian Federation investigation.

"Mr. Whitaker has been designated based on a statute that permits him to serve as Acting Attorney General for a limited period, pending the Senate's consideration of a nominee for Attorney General", the office wrote.

Mueller's filing also said that "the Special Counsel has and continues to 'exercise, within the scope of his or her jurisdiction, the full power and independent authority to exercise all investigative and prosecutorial functions of any United States Attorney, '" quoting a Nixon-era Supreme Court precedent backing Mueller's position in the case. "I think the appointment is unconstitutional", Schiff said.

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The memo had said the attorney general was a principal officer requiring Senate confirmation, but someone who temporarily performs the attorney general's duties is not.

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.

It was the third lawsuit challenging Whitaker's appointment in one week.

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'. He's a very smart person.

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