Trump’s ap­point­ment may be un­con­sti­tu­tional

Lodi News-Sentinel - - LOCAL/NATION - By David G. Sav­age

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s de­ci­sion to name as act­ing at­tor­ney gen­eral a lit­tle-known po­lit­i­cal ap­pointee who has never been con­firmed by the Se­nate has come un­der in­creas­ing crit­i­cism by le­gal schol­ars on both the right and left who say the ap­point­ment is un­con­sti­tu­tional.

Although Trump clearly had the au­thor­ity to fire At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions, re­plac­ing him with Matthew Whi­taker doesn’t pass con­sti­tu­tional muster, they say.

“I don’t see how he can hold that of­fice. Whi­taker’s ap­point­ment is not con­sis­tent with the Ap­point­ments Clause of the Constitution,” said John Yoo, a Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berkeley law pro­fes­sor who worked in the Jus­tice De­part­ment un­der Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush.

Many Democrats — and some Repub­li­cans — have said they be­lieve Trump put Whi­taker in the job to try to stop, or at least limit, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion that spe­cial coun­sel Robert S. Mueller III is con­duct­ing into Rus­sian ef­forts to sway the 2016 elec­tion.

But the ris­ing vol­ume of ob­jec­tions, and ques­tions about Whi­taker’s past busi­ness deal­ings and con­tro­ver­sial re­marks, may be af­fect­ing Trump’s cal­cu­la­tions. On Fri­day morn­ing, be­fore leav­ing for a week­end trip to France, Trump ap­peared to dis­tance him­self from Whi­taker.

“Matt Whi­taker — I don’t know Matt Whi­taker. Matt Whi­taker worked for Jeff Ses­sions, and he was al­ways ex­tremely highly thought of, and he still is. But I didn’t know Matt Whi­taker,” Trump said when re­porters asked about him.

“The choice was greeted with raves, ini­tially, and it still is in some cir­cles,” he added. “You know, it’s a shame that no mat­ter who I put in, they go af­ter them.”

Trump did not re­spond di­rectly when asked about the le­gal dis­pute, which in­volves the con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sion that says the pres­i­dent “shall nom­i­nate, and by and with the ad­vice and con­sent of the Se­nate, shall ap­point” am­bas­sadors, judges and “all other of­fi­cers of the United States.”

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