As Special Counsel John Mueller’s investigation tightens its noose on Donald Trump, his family, and his close friends, the president has been tossing out acts of desperation. Even though the Republican House and Senate totally disregarded their accountability to rein in this loose cannon president, POTUS knows his time is ticking down. Most recently, he inserted an ill-equipped lackey into Attorney General (AG) Jeff Sessions’ vacant spot. Democrats have had it, and they have begun taking action.
Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court challenging Trump installing Matt Whitaker in Jeff Sessions’ spot, as acting AG. The Protect Democracy group and the Constitutional Accountability Center organization have been representing the senators.
Whitehouse said, according to CNN:
‘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.’
Whitaker was a strange choice. Trump saw him on television blasting special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation, so the president plucked him out of virtual obscurity and landed him as then attorney general Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff. Within a year, Whitaker was sitting in his boss’ seat, atop the entire Department of Justice (DOJ) — and Mueller’s investigation.
Democrats tried to get Whitaker to either resign or recuse himself from the Mueller probe. When that did not work, the senators filed their lawsuit, arguing that Trump bypassed the Senate confirmation hearing. That should mean that Trump’s appointment was unconstitutional.
The DOJ sent out a memo concluding that the appointment was “legally justified,” according to the Vacancies Reform Act, CNN noted. The department referred to Whitaker’s temporary appointment and:
‘…he had been serving in the Department of Justice at a sufficiently senior pay level for over a year.’
The senators argued that this does not fall under the Vacancies Reform Act, because the law was too general. They pointed to the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which more specifically demands “Senate confirmation of high-level federal appointees.”
House Democrats will take over January 3, 2019. Four of their committee chairs wrote to Whitaker asking him to report on a company he worked for. The Federal Trade Commission shut it down and placed it under investigation, beginning next year.
In addition to these senators’ lawsuit, Maryland attorney general also filed a lawsuit urging the state’s Supreme Court to install Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in the vacated job instead of Whitaker. Rosenstein managed Mueller’s investigation until Whitaker took over. That would be the traditional DOJ chain of command traditional.
Unfortunately, there have been indications that Whitaker has been sharing information with Trump that was supposed to remain separate.
House Democrats will take over January 3, 2019. Four of their committee chairs wrote to Whitaker asking him to report on a company he worked for. The Federal Trade Commission shut it down and placed it under investigation beginning next year.
In a Sunday morning interview with Fox News Sunday, the president said he was giving Whitaker full power to intervene in the Mueller investigation. Trump said “it’s going to be up to him.”
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.