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 TrumpHouse Freedom Caucus calls for Congress to work on shutdown through break Democrat previews Mueller questions for Trump’s AG nominee Trump inaugural committee spent ,000 on makeup for aides: 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.


The potential lawsuit, which was first reported by the Daily Beast, comes after Trump ousted Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Supreme Court shouldn’t do the president’s dirty work to end DACA Rosenstein, DOJ exploring ways to more easily spy on journalists Trump AG nominee to say Congress, public should know results of Mueller probe 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 RosensteinDemocrat previews Mueller questions for Trump’s AG nominee The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump says he 'never worked for Russia' | Shutdown enters fourth week | AG pick says public should know Mueller probe findings Barr memo suggests: To understand the Trump administration, read Hobbes 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 SchumerDemocrats are facing political consequences over shutdown The Supreme Court shouldn’t do the president’s dirty work to end DACA Scalise: Trump wants Congress to solve shutdown problem 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.