Trump handpicked new AG ‘to do his bidding’ in Russia probe, says Dem strategist

Democratic strategist Joe McLean criticized President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says Putin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president MORE’s decision to name Matthew Whitaker as the new acting attorney general, saying Trump only picked him to “do his bidding” regarding special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s Russia probe.

“It’s just painful obvious that what Trump has done is he’s handpicked a guy who is going to do his bidding because [Jeff] Sessions wouldn’t do it and [Rod] Rosenstein wouldn’t do it and Mueller is on the case and they are terrified of Mueller,” McLean said during a Hill.TV panel discussion on Tuesday.

The comment was made in response a lawsuit brought forth by three Democratic senators. 

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOn The Money: Democrats wary of emerging bipartisan infrastructure deal, warn of time crunch Democrats wary of emerging bipartisan infrastructure deal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden mission abroad: reward friends, constrain adversaries MORE (D-R.I.) and Mazio Hirono (D-Hawaii) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging Whitaker’s nomination on Monday. They argue that his appointment is unconstitutional because he was not confirmed by the Senate in his previous role.

Democrats have expressed concern over Whitaker’s appointment.

Whitaker has repeatedly echoed Trump’s criticism of the Russia investigation, and has gone so far as to suggest that the probe is turning into a “witch hunt.” Some Democrats worry this could be potentially problematic given that Whitaker will oversee Mueller's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

But Democratic lawmakers aren’t the only ones challenging Trump’s pick.

Lawyers for former Texas agricultural products executive, Doug Haning, have also filed a motion against Whitaker. Haning is currently embroiled in a federal case over the mislabeling of pet food ingredients. There’s also a challenge in connection with a pending gun rights case.

Ultimately, McLean doesn’t think the fight over Trump’s appointment will be drawn out, and expects the Supreme Court will resolve the issue soon. 

“It seems to be there is a legitimate question and it will be decided — it’ll go to the Supreme Court, it’ll go fairly quickly and it will be decided,” he said.

— Tess Bonn