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Weekend Series on Law Enforcement History: Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre

Kelly Conway’s Husband: Hiring Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is Unconstitutional

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It might not come as a shock that some attorneys would conclude that the appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is unconstitutional.

But it’s certainly a bigger deal when one of those lawyers speaking up is the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.

In an opinion piece in the New York Times, husband George T. Conway III, along with attorney Neal K. Katyal, write:

It means that Mr. Trump’s installation of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general of the United States after forcing the resignation of Jeff Sessions is unconstitutional. It’s illegal. And it means that anything Mr. Whitaker does, or tries to do, in that position is invalid.

Much of the commentary about Mr. Whitaker’s appointment has focused on all sorts of technical points about the Vacancies Reform Act and Justice Department succession statutes. But the flaw in the appointment of Mr. Whitaker, who was Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff at the Justice Department, runs much deeper. It defies one of the explicit checks and balances set out in the Constitution, a provision designed to protect us all against the centralization of government power.

If you don’t believe us, then take it from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, whom Mr. Trump once called his “favorite” sitting justice. Last year, the Supreme Court examined the question of whether the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board had been lawfully appointed to his job without Senate confirmation. The Supreme Court held the appointment invalid on a statutory ground.

Ex-West Wing Official: I’m Worried About Donald Trump Jr. Getting Indicted

Donald Trump Jr. and his dad, President Trump, via Twitter

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The rumblings involving the Robert Mueller  probe declined quite a bit before the Nov. 6 election.

Now, they’re revving up again.

Gabriel Sherman writes in Vanity Fair that some folks are concerned Donald Trump Jr. may have perjured himself with investigators when he said he never told his father in advance of the infamous June 16 Trump Tower meeting to gather dirt on Hillary Clinton.

“I’m very worried about Don Jr.,” a former West Wing official who testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, tells Sherman. .

Homeland Security Teams up with Company for Fentanyl Sensors

File photo of pills laced with fentanyl.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The lethal synthetic opioid fentanyl is so potent that first responders have been hospitalized for exposure to the substance by just being near it.

That’s not to mention the countless deaths of opioid addicts who were unaware that their drugs were laced with fentanyl, which is far more potent than heroin.

Now Homeland Security has contracted with Salt Lake City-based Vaporsens, which is one of three companies nationwide creating a new technology to detect fentanyl, KUTV reports. 

Vaporsens scientist Jayc Johnson, who is developing a prototype, said a “sensor like this has never been developed.”

His prototype is a wearable device aimed at helping paramedics and law enforcement officials detect even trace amounts of fentanyl without having to come into physical contact with it.

Mueller Foes Urge Federal Court to End Special Counsel Probe of Russia, Trump

Special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The legality of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia meddling and possible collision by Trump’s campaign is facing its most significant challenge since he was appointed in April 2017.

Lawyers for witness Andrew Miller, an associate of Trump’s longtime confidant Roger Stone, asked a federal appeals court on Thursday to end the investigation on the basis that it has no legal authority.

It’s the first challenge to Mueller’s authority that has reached a federal court of appeals.

Mueller’s job was made even more precarious this week when the president replaced Attorney General Jeff Sessions with Trump loyalist Matthew Whitaker, who could take over the special counsel investigation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Miller’s lawyer, Paul Kamenar, argued that Mueller’s power is excessive and outside the bounds of law because the special counsel position was created in regulation, not by a congressional statute.

“The special counsel does exercise extraordinary prosecutorial and governmental powers,” Kamenar told the judges, Politico reports. “He can bring indictments in multiple jurisdictions. He’s like a U.S. attorney at large.” 

Trump has long called the investigation a “witch hunt,” even as some of his allies have pleaded guilty to numerous charges and even have cooperated with federal prosecutors.

Mueller’s office has argued that a special counsel’s authority has long been upheld by both federal law and the courts have

Fate of Mueller Investigation Hangs in the Balance After Sessions’ Resignation

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The forced resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday presented President Trump with his best opportunity yet to end the special counsel investigation that he has repeatedly dismissed as a “witch hunt.”

Matthew Whitaker, a Trump loyalist and harsh critic of Robert Mueller’s handling of the probe, has been tapped to replace Sessions on at least a temporary basis.

As attorney general, Whitaker could seize control of the special counsel investigation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who hired Mueller in April 2017 after Sessions recused himself.

Whitaker, a former college football player and U.S. attorney in Iowa, wrote in a column for CNN last year that Mueller would overstep his authority if he investigated the Trump family’s finances.

“This would raise serious concerns that the special counsel’s investigation was a mere witch hunt,” Whitaker wrote, repeating the president’s go-to conspiratorial phrase.

Whitaker has not yet responded to media questions about what he plans to do about the Mueller investigation.

“I am committed to leading a fair department with the highest ethical standards that upholds the rule of law and seeks justice for all Americans,” Whitaker said  Wednesday in a statement, calling Sessions “a man of integrity.”

Democrats wasted no time demanding that Whitaker stay away from the probe because his previous comments indicate he is far too biased to handle it fairly.

“Given his previous comments advocating defunding and imposing limitations on the Mueller investigation, Mr. Whitaker should recuse himself from its oversight for the duration of his time as acting attorney general,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement to the New York Times

If Trump’s administration interferes with the investigation, Democrats could use their new majority in the House to impeach the president. But the bold measure would almost certainly die in the Senate, which needs two-thirds of the vote to impeach.

Read Sessions’ Resignation Letter to ‘Mr. President’

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

President Trump wasted no time dumping Attorney General Jeff Sessions, just one day after the midterm elections.

Sessions, a former Alabama senator, was routinely criticized by Trump for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, a decision that allowed his deputy to hire special counsel Robert Mueller to probe connections between the Kremlin and Trump’s campaign.

Here is his resignation letter, dated Wednesday.

Dear Mr. President:

At your request I am submitting my resignation.

Since the day I was honored to be sworn in as Attorney General of the United States , I came to work at the Department of Justice every day determined to do my duty and serve my country. I have done so to the best of my ability, working to support the fundamental legal processes that are the foundation of justice.

The team we assembled embraced your directive to be a law and order department of Justice. We prosecuted the largest number of violent offenders and firearms’ defendants in our country’s history. We took on transnational gangs that are bringing violence and death across our borders and protected national security. We did our part to restore immigration enforcement. We targeted the opioid epidemic by prosecuting doctors, pharmacists, and anyone else who contributes to this crisis with ne w law enforcement tools and determination. And we have seen results. After two years of rising violent crime and homicides prior to this administration, those trends have reversed—thanks to the hard work of our prosecutors and law enforcement around the country.

I am particularly grateful to the fabulous men and women in aw enforcement all over this country with whom I have served. I have had no greater honor than to work alongside them. As I have said many times, they have my thanks and I will always have their backs.

Most importantly, in my time as Attorney General we have restored and upheld the rule of law—a glorious tradition that each of us has a responsibility to safeguard. We have operated with integrity and lawfully and aggressively advanced the policy agenda of this administration.

I have been honored to serve as Attorney General and have worked to implement the law enforcement agenda based on the rule of law that formed a central part of your campaign for the Presidency.

Thank you for the opportunity, Mr. President.

Sincerely,

Jeff B. Session III

Attorney General

Adios! Trump Forces Resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions Day After Elections

Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump announced the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday afternoon, ending a long-tumultuous relationship with the nation’s top law enforcement official.

Trump said on Twitter that he’s replacing Sessions with the attorney general’s chief of staff Matthew Whitaker.

“We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well!” Trump tweeted shortly before 3 p.m. “A permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date.”

The forced resignation came just one day after the midterm elections.

Trump has publicly clashed with Sessions since he recused himself from the Russia investigation. That allowed the deputy attorney general to hire special counsel Robert Mueller in April 2017 to investigate Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

With Sessions gone, Whitaker may have the authority to take over Mueller’s investigation.

Trump had tried endlessly to shame Sessions into resigning, but Sessions didn’t budge.

The resignation is sure to have some political ramifications.