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OffbeatGeorge Conway: Trump replacing Sessions with Whitaker is illegal

22:40  08 november  2018
22:40  08 november  2018 Source:   vox.com

Kellyanne Conway says her husband's criticism of Whitaker appointment 'not relevant'

Kellyanne Conway says her husband's criticism of Whitaker appointment 'not relevant' White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Sunday that her husband's views on President Donald Trump's appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker are "not relevant," just days after he called the move unconstitutional in a New York Times op-ed. Asked if she agrees with the arguments written by her husband, George Conway, and Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general in the Obama administration, Conway told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week," "No, I don't. But it's also not relevant." "People disagree on the Constitution," she said.

George Conway: Trump replacing Sessions with Whitaker is illegal© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Matthew Whitaker

President Trump broke the law when he appointed Matthew Whitaker to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday, lawyers Neal Katyal and George Conway argue in a New York Times op-ed Thursday.

The problem, they say, is that Whitaker was not confirmed by the Senate. They argue that that violates the Constitution’s Appointments Clause, which they say requires all “principal officers” of the government to be Senate-confirmed.

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Indeed, it was very strange that Trump bypassed the next in line for the post, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and slotted in Whitaker instead. Rosenstein had been confirmed by the Senate for the deputy job.

But Whitaker was serving as Sessions’s chief of staff, which is not a Senate-confirmed post. Before that, he’d been out of government for eight years. That makes his appointment as the acting head of a Cabinet agency highly unusual, at the very least — and unconstitutional according to Katyal and Conway.

“It’s illegal. And it means that anything Mr. Whitaker does, or tries to do, in that position is invalid,” they write.

The argument may seem unsurprising coming from Katyal, who’s a Democrat and was President Obama’s solicitor general. But the fact that George Conway helped write the piece will certainly raise eyebrows, since he is of course the husband of top White House staffer Kellyanne Conway.

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George Conway’s frequent public criticisms of Trump and his administration have beenmuch noted, but here he is outright calling a major Trump appointment illegal, on an issue for which the stakes for the president and his family are enormously high.

Whitaker’s appointment spurred fears that Trump was installing a loyalist to take control of and perhaps crush special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. And this new argument could be the opening volley in some eventual court battle over Whitaker’s authority.

Separately, Georgetown law professor Marty Lederman wrote a rundown of legal issues surrounding Whitaker’s appointment, and he categorized this issue less definitively as a “possible” constitutional problem. There’s little precedent for a situation like this, Lederman wrote, so “it’s technically an open question.”

You can read Katyal and Conway’s full op-ed at this link.

Whitaker defended Trump Jr.'s meeting with Russians.
Whitaker replaces Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was asked to resign by U.S. President Donald Trump, as the country’s top law official.  Whitaker will take over as acting attorney general until a permanent replacement is named. Trump had repeatedly criticized Sessions for recusing himself from oversight of the investigation being carried out by special counsel Robert Mueller into the alleged collusion. Whitaker defended the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting held between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Russian lobbyists with Kremlin ties, during a CNN panel discussion on July 13, 2017.

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