Monday on MSNBC’s “MTP Daily,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) discussed joining Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) in a lawsuit arguing acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s appointment was unconstitutional.
Whitehouse said, “There’s a much more specific provision as a matter of law, statutory law, that provides a distinct order of succession in the Department of Justice. And when Rod Rosenstein, who was next on the order of succession, was reviewed and confirmed by the Senate, it was with the prospect in mind that part of the deputy attorney general’s responsibilities are to take over and fill in those spots. Nobody had heard of this fellow Whitaker at the time. Moreover, the Constitution ultimately controls and says the principal offices of the United States shall be filled with advice and consent of the Senate. The way the president has gone about this creates not only is a violation in this case, but a roadmap for the future to skirt around advice and consent. When you look at why that was put in there, it was to protect the public against a president who might put flunkies or cronies or incompetents in office because they had greater loyalty to the person than to the public they’re there to serve. That’s the stated purpose of that clause. So it is very applicable in this instance.”
He added, “Even John Yoo wrote a piece saying his appointment was unconstitutional. I think it is pretty widely accepted that his appointment is at the very bounds of constitutionality and that we feel very confident, the three of us who brought the case, that we stand a way better than even likelihood of winning this and putting the advice and consent back onto the department of the Attorney General.”
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