Pelosi: Whitaker appointment "does violence to the Constitution"

Leroy Wright
November 11, 2018

Whitaker, a Republican Party loyalist and Sessions' chief of staff, has faced pressure from Democrats to step aside from overseeing the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, because he criticized the investigation before joining the Justice Department past year.

"I think the democracy is under assault", said protester Bob Schoumacher.

Whitaker himself stayed out of the public debate Friday.

And he said the attorney general could kill the investigation by starving it of funding.

Trump said on Friday, as he was departing Washington for a trip to Paris, that he had not discussed the Mueller probe with Whitaker before appointing him, and it was up to Whitaker whether he wanted to be involved with the investigation. "He's said repeatedly it's going to be allowed to finish".

In past TV appearances, Mr. Whitaker has said that there was no collusion between Mr. Trump and Russian Federation, and that he could envision a scenario where the Mueller investigation gets curtailed through budget restrictions. That would be an appropriate exercise of the Acting Attorney General's oversight responsibilities.

Mr Sessions angered Mr Trump when he recused himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation.

"Regrettably, Mr. Whitaker's statements indicate a clear bias against the investigation that would cause a reasonable person to question his impartiality", they wrote.

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Look for Whitaker to reduce Mueller's operating budget, pull lawyers and investigators now working on Mueller's team back to DOJ, refuse to authorize grand jury subpoenas or indictments, and/or push Mueller to wrap up the probe as soon as possible.

As the minority party in the Senate, Democrats might need some Republican support to have legal standing to sue Trump under the Appointments Clause, said Andrew Wright, who was a White House lawyer under former President Barack Obama.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he expects President Donald Trump to nominate a new attorney general "pretty quickly" after Trump fired Jeff Sessions earlier this week. Even if the appointment is lawful, Gonzales said, Whitaker's comments raised "a whole specter of whether or not he should recuse himself, so again, we're right back in the situation where you've got the leadership at the department subject to questioning as to whether or not they can effectively lead the department with respect to one of the most politically charged investigations that's ongoing right now".

Like nearly anyone Trump might have named to replace Sessions, though, Whitaker has come in for bitter criticism from the Trump haters.

Trump is said to be a fan of Whitaker's appearances on cable television before he joined the Justice Department.

The Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution states that some senior government officials, known as "principal officers", must be confirmed by the Senate. "That also happens to be my view".

Brenna Bird, a county prosecutor in Iowa who worked at Whitaker's former law firm, said Whitaker, along with Sessions, briefed the president "several times" and that Whitaker has gained Trump's trust.

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