Three Senate Democrats have filed a lawsuit to stop Donald Trump from appointing Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker on grounds that the action is unconstitutional.
On Monday, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia arguing that Trump violated the Appointments Clause of the Constitution by choosing Whitaker for a Cabinet-level position even though Whitaker has never been Senate confirmed for a position, according to Plitico.com.
If Whitaker were to receive the position, he would be overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. However, last week the Justice Department released a statement saying Whittaker’s appointment would not go against the clause, as he would be serving in an acting capacity. Because Whitaker has been in that department for more than a year at a “sufficiently senior pay level,” it was concluded that Whitaker may serve in an acting capacity.
“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. “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.”
This is the second time Whitaker’s appointment has been challenged constitutionally. Last week, the state of Maryland petitioned to have a federal judge block Whitaker from serving on the same grounds.