Mueller: Whitaker appointment has 'no effect' on ongoing legal challenge

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build Trump Tower in Moscow during 2016 campaign: report DC train system losing 0k per day during government shutdown Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees MORE’s decision to tap Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general has “no effect” on an ongoing legal challenge to Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s authority, prosecutors working for the special counsel said in a court filing on Monday.

Mueller’s team addressed Whitaker’s appointment in a supplemental brief filed in the case involving Andrew Miller, an associate of longtime Trump ally Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneCorsi says stepson subpoenaed to testify before grand jury in Mueller investigation Court extends Mueller grand jury Corsi's lawsuit against Mueller hits hurdle in first hearing MORE. Miller is currently fighting a subpoena to testify before the grand jury in the special counsel’s Russia investigation. 

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Trump announced in early November that Whitaker would replace Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' Acting AG Whitaker's wife defends him in lengthy email to journalist Watchdog: Thousands more migrant children separated from parents than previously known MORE in an acting capacity after Sessions resigned as attorney general at the president’s request. Some of Trump’s critics have warned that Trump could be laying the groundwork to interfere in the Mueller investigation. Whitaker, who worked as Sessions’s chief of staff, has in the past been critical of the probe.

A federal appeals court in D.C. had asked Mueller’s team and Miller to each file briefs addressing what impact, if any, Whitaker’s appointment would have on the ongoing legal battle. Both argued in separate filings that the appointment has no impact on the legal arguments in the case.

“Acting Attorney General Whitaker’s designation neither alters the Special Counsel’s authority to represent the United States nor raises any jurisdictional issue,” Mueller’s team wrote in the filing on Monday. “The Special Counsel continues to exercise the same authority, and the jurisdiction of the district court and this Court is intact.”

Miller is challenging the constitutionality of Mueller’s appointment, arguing that he should have been appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate as a “principal officer,” or otherwise should have been appointed as an “inferior officer” by Sessions — not by Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay Rosenstein5 myths about William Barr William Barr's only 'flaw' is that he was nominated by Trump The Hill's Morning Report — Shutdown fallout — economic distress MORE, who had been overseeing the probe up until Whitaker took the helm of the department earlier this month.

Lawyers representing Concord Management and Consulting, an organization accused of funding a Russian troll farm, unsuccessfully made a similar argument earlier this year in an attempt to dismiss an indictment filed by Mueller’s team.

Mueller has an interest in Miller ostensibly for his connection to Stone, who has drawn scrutiny as a result of his public statements about WikiLeaks before the 2016 election. The special counsel has questioned a slew of Stone associates in an effort to determine what, if any, advanced knowledge anyone in Trump’s orbit had of hacked Democratic emails leaked by WikiLeaks before Election Day.