Justice legal opinion backs Whitaker’s naming as acting AG

Published November 14, 2018, 11:23 PM

by Roel Tibay

By the Associated Press

The Justice Department has issued an internal legal opinion supporting the legality of Matthew Whitaker’s appointment as acting attorney general.

Matt Whitaker FILE - In this April 24, 2014, file photo, then-Iowa Republican senatorial candidate and former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker watches before a live televised debate in Johnston, Iowa. Maryland is challenging the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as the new U.S. acting attorney general. A draft filing obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press argues that President Donald Trump sidestepped the Constitution and normal procedure by naming Whitaker to the position in place of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File/ MANILA BULLETIN)
FILE – In this April 24, 2014, file photo, then-Iowa Republican senatorial candidate and former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker watches before a live televised debate in Johnston, Iowa. Maryland is challenging the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as the new U.S. acting attorney general. A draft filing obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press argues that President Donald Trump sidestepped the Constitution and normal procedure by naming Whitaker to the position in place of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File/ MANILA BULLETIN)

The Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion is aimed at addressing concerns from Democrats and even some Republicans that President Donald Trump violated the law by naming Whitaker over Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Whitaker had been chief of staff to now-ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions — a job that didn’t require Senate confirmation.

The state of Maryland has challenged Whitaker’s appointment.

A Justice Department official says the White House contacted the Office of Legal Counsel for advice — before Sessions was replaced — about options in the event of a vacancy.

The opinion doesn’t address the question of whether Whitaker should step aside from overseeing the special counsel’s Russia investigation.

 
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