Three Senate Democrats have filed a lawsuit today calling the appointment of Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker illegal, according to Reuters.
Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), say President Trump violated the Constitution and denied the Senate the right to vote on Whitaker’s confirmation.
Blumenthal said in a statement, “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.”
Last week, the Department of Justice released a legal opinion stating that Whitaker could legally serve as acting attorney general, writing, “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.”
Whitaker has come under fire from Democrats who claim his history of comments about Robert Mueller’s probe into President Trump and Russia are grounds for recusal from his oversight role in the investigation.
House Democrat leaders recently sent a letter to an ethics official at the Department of Justice, demanding Whitaker’s recusal, writing, “There are serious ethical considerations that require Mr. Whitaker’s immediate recusal from any involvement with the Special Counsel investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.”
Prior to his appointment as acting attorney general, Whitaker told radio host Andrew Wilkow that there was “no collusion” between Russia and Trump.
“The truth is there was no collusion with the Russians and the Trump campaign,” he said. “There was interference by the Russians into the election, but that was not collusion with the campaign. That’s where the left seems to be combining those two issues.”
Whitaker also appeared on CNN in 2017 and suggested that a new Attorney General could reduce Mueller’s budget and grind the investigation to a halt.
President Trump told Fox News yesterday that he “would not get involved” in Whitaker’s decisions as it relates to his oversight of the Mueller probe, and said he was confident that Whitaker was “going to do what’s right.”
Whitaker was appointed acting attorney general earlier this month, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions submitted his letter of resignation at President Trump’s request.