Matthew Whitaker’s job as acting Attorney General is tainted and today the controversy over his appointment is growing. From the minute we heard Jeff Sessions was being forced to leave the job, many said acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should have taken over. Trump had his own ideas. He immediately gave Whitaker the job, causing instant backlash.
First and foremost it was revealed that Whitaker has shown bias against the Mueller investigation. This would mean, just like Jeff Sessions did before him, Whitaker should recuse himself from the Russia investigation. An even bigger challenge was presented by those who said Whitaker’s hire wasn’t even legal since he wasn’t confirmed by the Senate. George Conway (Kellyanne Conway’s husband) even called his appointment unconstitutional. Now, another roadblock, as the state of Maryland challenges Whitaker’s hiring in court. The Associated Press reports:
A Tuesday filing, a draft of which was obtained earlier by The Associated Press, sets up a court challenge between a state and the federal government over the legitimacy of the country’s chief law enforcement officer. It comes as Democrats call on Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the special counsel’s Russia investigation because of critical comments he has made on the probe and amid concerns over his views on the scope of judicial authority.
Lawyers for the state say the job should have gone to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein instead of to Whitaker.
They cite a statute governing the line of succession at the Justice Department that says that in the case of a vacancy at the attorney general level, “the Deputy Attorney General may exercise all the duties of that office.” If neither is available for the job, according to that statute, then the associate attorney general is supposed to be elevated.
Mr. Trump may not “bypass the constitutional and statutory requirements for appointing someone to that office,” the plaintiffs said in a draft filing obtained by The New York Times.
The legal action escalates the uproar surrounding Mr. Trump’s installation of Mr. Whitaker as the nation’s top law-enforcement officer, from criticism of his basic credentials and his views on the Russia investigation to challenges to the legality of his appointment. Last week, Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate’s top Democrat, sent a letter demanding to know why Mr. Trump chose an “unconfirmed political appointee” as acting attorney general, rather than follow the Justice Department’s statutory line of succession.
Meanwhile the White House today is reportedly preparing to fight for Whitaker’s appointment.
— Andy Grewal (@AndyGrewal) November 13, 2018
Aside from the aforementioned reasons, there is also a lot of hubbub over questionable things Whitaker has said and done in the past, things that would most likely be disqualifying for any Attorney General nominee before Trump.
In 2014, acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, said he would only support federal judges with a Biblical view, seeing no place for a judge of Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, agnostic or other faith, or of no faith. https://t.co/KkRarzfQ72
— Wardah Khalid (@wardahkhalid_) November 7, 2018
BREAKING: As of last summer, the FBI was investigating the company connected to Whitaker as a potential criminal matter https://t.co/09setXyyxr
— Brittany Shammas (@britsham) November 9, 2018
As for Trump, it seems he is distancing himself from Whitaker. The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah takes a look at the president’s claim that he doesn’t even know the acting AG.
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) November 13, 2018