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Tag: Justice Department

State of Maryland Challenges Whitaker’s Appointment as AG

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s appointment of a loyalist, Matthew Whitaker, to replace ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions is facing a court challenge.

The state of Maryland plans to ask a federal judge Tuesday to declare that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should be the acting attorney general, not Whitaker, as a matter of law, the New York Times reports. 

In a draft filing, the state says Trump may not “bypass the constitutional and statutory requirements for appointing someone to that office.”

The request by Maryland is part of a lawsuit in which the state sued Sessions in his official capacity. Ellen L. Hollander, a 2010 Obama appointee to the Federal District Court for the District of Maryland, must identify Sessions’ successor as a defendant in the litigation.

A lot is at stake. The supervision of Robert Mueller as special counsel investigating Russia and Trump’s campaign and administration belongs to the head of the Justice Department, which is the acting attorney general.

Whitaker has long criticized Mueller’s position as illegal. Rosenstein, on the other hand, appointed Mueller in April 2017 to investigate Russia and the role Trump’s campaign played in election meddling.

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.

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

Ex-FBI Attorney: Bureau, DOJ Were Not Joking about Removing Trump

Former top FBI attorney James Baker

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former FBI general counsel James Baker said discussions within the bureau about secretly recording President Trump in an effort to remove him from office was no joke.

Baker served in the leadership role in May 2017, when then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed the secret recordings.

Baker shared the information with Congress last week.

“As far as Baker was concerned, this was a real plan being discussed,” a source directly familiar with the congressional investigation told The Hill. “It was no laughing matter for the FBI.”

Rosenstein, who is scheduled to be interviewed behind closed doors on Thursday by House judiciary Committee members, has denied that the discussions were serious.

Updated: Deputy AG Rosenstein Considering Resigning; Will Meet With Trump on Thursday

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

Update: 3:35 p.m. Monday — Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein will remain put for now,  but will meet with President Donald Trump Thursday to discuss his job, the Washington Post reports.

___________________________________

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has worked to keep the Justice Department in line with its mission, is considering resigning, the Washington Post reports.

The paper reports that Rosenstein told the White House he’s willing to resign, but it was unclear if the resignation has been accepted.

One Justice Department official tells the Post Rosenstein was on his way to the White House on Monday and was preparing to be fired. But the official said Rosenstein is not resigning.

Meanwhile, in earlier reports, President Trump said he has not decided whether to fire Rosenstein following a New York Times report, that stated he discussed secretly recording the president and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office. 

Asked whether he feels unsettled about Rosenstein, who is overseeing Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, Trump said his administration is investigating.

“I’m not unsettled about anything, but I’ll tell you what. We are looking at it,” Trump told host Geraldo Rivera in an interview Sunday for his new show on WTAM radio in Cleveland. “It’s very early. We just read the reports. ... We will make a determination.”

Trump also indicated Rosenstein was “hired by Jeff Sessions.”

“I was not involved in that process, because you know they go out and get their own deputies and the people that work in the department,” Trump said. “Jeff Sessions hired him.”

Trump has lashed out at Sessions since he recused himself from the Russia investigation, a decision that gave Rosenstein the authority to appoint a special counsel.

FBI, DOJ Plan to Propose Redactions to Russia Probe Amid Trump’s Calls for ‘Immediate Declassification’

President Trump answering media questions on Air Force One. Photo via the White House.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s demand for the “immediate declassification” of details of the Russia investigation are likely to be met with proposed redactions by the FBI and Justice Department, Bloomberg reports, citing three people familiar with the matter.

No timeline was been made as the FBI, DOJ and Office of the Director of National Intelligence come through sensitive materials.

On Monday, the White House demanded the declassification of all text messages related to the Russia investigation by Justice Department official Bruce Ohr and several other officials, including former FBI Director James Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe.

Once the FBI and DOJ have identified their proposed redactions, the Office of Director of National Intelligence will review the material before handing it over to the White House.

As president, Trump has the authority to release the documents regardless of proposed redactions by the federal agencies.

Trump Launches Fresh Attacks against FBI, DOJ on 9/11 Anniversary

President Trump and his wife Melania Trump at the site of the Flight 93 crash in Shanksville, Pa., via White House.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump seized on the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to launch dubious assaults on the FBI and Justice Department.

The president repeated an unfounded allegation by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who claimed former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page employed a “media leak strategy” to undermine his administration, the Washington Post reports.

Trump then criticized the FBI and Justice for failing to act on the dubious claim.

Strzok’s attorney said the “media leak strategy” was referring to an effort to tackle unauthorized disclosures to reporters. 

Trump Says AG Sessions’ Job Is Safe Until Midterm Elections in November. Then What?

President Trump at Indiana rally Thursday.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump said he will keep his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, on the job until at least the mid-term elections in November, despite blasting the former senator for failing to stop an “illegal investigation” by special counsel Robert Mueller.

“I just would love to have him do a great job,” Trump told Bloomberg, declining to say whether Sessions’ job was safe after November. 

Trump has clashed with Sessions since he recused himself from the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The recusal allowed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint Mueller to investigate Russia in May 2017, just days after the president fired FBI Director James Comey.

Trump has called the investigation a “witch hunt” and routinely questions why the Justice Department isn’t investigating Hillary Clinton.

“I’d love to have him look at the other side,” Trump said.

At a rally in Indiana on Thursday night, Trump turned up the rhetoric, threatening to “get involved” in the work of the Justice Department and FBI unless the agencies “start doing their job.”

He also blasted both agencies by suggesting they are letting Clinton get away with crimes.

“What’s happening is a disgrace, and at some point … if it doesn’t straighten out properly … I will get involved,” Trump said.