A group of Senate Democrats have gone to court in order to block acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker from serving in his post and possibly trying to shut down the investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
The Daily Beast reported Monday morning:
“The suit, which is being filed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is the latest and most aggressive salvo against the Whitaker appointment. Last week, the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel defended Whitaker’s promotion in a memo that drew immediate criticism for its expansive understanding of the president’s power. That view is in hot dispute, including from the state of Maryland, which petitioned a federal judge to stop him from serving on constitutional grounds.”
In a statement, Senator Blumenthal noted:
“Installing Matthew Whitaker so flagrantly defies constitutional law that any viewer of Schoolhouse Rock would recognize it. President Trump is denying Senators our constitutional obligation and opportunity to do our job: scrutinizing the nomination of our nation’s top law enforcement official. The reason is simple: Whitaker would never pass the advice and consent test. 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.”
According to the lawsuit, Whitaker’s appointment to head the Justice Department is in direct violation of the Constitution’s Appointments Clause because the Senate never confirmed Whitaker for his prior position at the DOJ as chief of staff to former AG Jeff Sessions, who was forced to resign by President Donald Trump the day after the midterm election.
Whitaker has been a frequent and vocal critic of the Russia investigation and special counsel, even going so far as to declare that there was no collusion between Trump and Russia shortly after Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who should have been promoted to the top spot at the DOJ instead of Whitaker.
Shortly after the lawsuit was filed Monday morning, Senator Whitehouse called Whitaker little more than a “lackey” for the president:
“The stakes are too high to allow the president to install an unconfirmed lackey to lead the Department of Justice – a lackey whose stated purpose, apparently, is undermining a major investigation into the president.”
One hurdle the senators will have to overcome is proving they have “standing” to file such a suit. That will require them proving that Whitaker’s appointment directly violated their rights. David Rivkin, a constitutional lawyer who served in the George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan administrations said to win such a suit, the Senate will have to vote and claim standing as an institution.
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