Democrats File Lawsuit Challenging Acting AG Matthew Whitaker Appointment

Democratic senators sue over Whitaker's appointment as AG

Three Democratic senators have filed a lawsuit challenging the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.

The lawsuit was filed in USA district court for the District of Columbia by senators Richard Blumenthal, Sheldon Whitehouse and Mazie Hirono.

All three senators sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee and are arguing that Whitaker's appointment violates the Constitution's Appointment Clause "advice and consent" role.

"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.

Trump named Whitaker acting attorney general on the day he asked Jeff Sessions for his resignation as attorney general, less than 24 hours after polls closed in the midterm elections. The attorney, Thomas Goldstein, asked the high court to find that Whitaker's appointment is unconstitutional and replace him with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The move comes after the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel released a legal opinion defending the appointment.

'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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"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", Blumenthal said in a statement.

Whitaker was confirmed by the Senate 14 years ago for his job as a US attorney in Iowa, but some argue that the confirmation has expired. A hearing on Maryland's legal challenge is slated for December 19.

Kupec's statement following rising questions over whether Trump's choice of Whitaker violated federal law, because Whitaker has not gone through the confirmation process required for cabinet officials and especially Justice Department chiefs.

Legal experts and progressive advocacy groups immediately raised alarm at the prospect of Whitaker overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe, given that he argued in an opinion piece previous year that the investigation has gone "too far".

In a statement Monday, Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said it was based on "centuries of practice and precedent" and "comports with. actions of United States presidents, both Republican and Democrat".

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