Senate Dems discussing lawsuit challenging Whitaker appointment

Senate Dems discussing lawsuit challenging Whitaker appointment
© Stefani Reynolds

Senate Democrats are privately mulling legal action to challenge President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoint Chiefs chairman denies report that US is planning to keep 1K troops in Syria Kansas Department of Transportation calls Trump 'delusional communist' on Twitter Trump has privately voiced skepticism about driverless cars: report MORE's decision to appoint Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.

A Democratic aide told The Hill that discussions about a potential lawsuit, which would argue Whitaker’s appointment violated the Senate's "advice and consent" role, were in the "beginning stages" and were still being researched.

"We are actively thinking about what a possible legal challenge would look like in this case," the aide added.

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The potential lawsuit, which was first reported by the Daily Beast, comes after Trump ousted Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsO'Rourke on impeachment: 2020 vote may be best way to 'resolve' Trump House Judiciary Dem, Republican clash over details of Whitaker testimony DeVos moves to allow religious groups to provide federally funded services to private schools MORE as attorney general and appointed Whitaker, who was Sessions's chief of staff, to the role in an acting capacity.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) told the Daily Beast that it wasn't yet clear if senators could successfully bring a legal challenge but that they were studying "the array of legal flaws in the appointment and considering which of them are challengeable in court."

“We have been doing a deep dive on potential causes of action concerning the constitutional issues raised by the Whitaker appointment and also obvious obstacles that could be raised to any court initiative, not the least of them standing," Blumenthal told the publication.

Democrats, and some Republicans, raised concerns about the potential impact Whitaker could have on special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinGraham says he'll probe Rosenstein's 25th Amendment remarks The damning proof of innocence that FBI likely withheld in Russian probe Conway's husband: 'Banana republic' if Trump got his wish to go after investigators MORE had been providing oversight of the probe but the Justice Department said this week that Whitaker would take over those responsibilities.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerWhy we need to build gateway now Campaign to draft Democratic challenger to McConnell starts raising funds Schumer congratulates J. Lo and A-Rod, but says 'I'm never officiating a wedding again' MORE (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to Trump Friday wanting details on his legal reasoning for appointing Whitaker, arguing the move could violate the Appointments Clause of the Constitution by putting someone who had not been previously confirmed by the Senate into the Justice Department spot.

"Mr. Whitaker is a political appointee who is not serving in a Senate confirmed position in the Justice Department. I am not aware of any precedent for appointment of an official who has not been confirmed by the Senate to serve as acting Attorney General," Schumer wrote in the letter.