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Appeals Court Rules That Mueller Was ‘Properly Appointed’

Appeals Court Rules That Mueller Was ‘Properly Appointed’

A challenge to the legality of Robert Mueller’s appointment as special counsel to lead the Russia investigation failed on Monday after a circuit court ruled against the arguments made by an associate of Trump confidante Roger Stone.

Andrew Miller had been subpoenaed by a grand jury due to his connections with Stone. He refused to comply with the subpoena order, according to reporting from BuzzFeed News, arguing that Mueller was a “principal officer” by being appointed to the role of special counsel.

According to the U.S. Constitution, “principal officers” in the executive branch can only assume their rules after they’ve received Senate confirmation. Mueller did not receive such confirmation, as he was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to lead the probe after the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

Ordinarily the attorney general would make such an appointment, but because then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions had already recused himself from the Russia investigation, it fell to Rosenstein to make the recommendation.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. District rejected Miller’s argument, stating that a special counsel is in no way a “principal officer.” Rather, they deemed Mueller as an appointed “inferior officer,” an individual who is appointed by a principal officer who has received Senate confirmation, as Rosenstein had.

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“Because the Special Counsel is an inferior officer, and the Deputy Attorney General became the head of the Department by virtue of becoming the Acting Attorney General as a result of a vacancy created by the disability of the Attorney General through recusal on the matter, we hold that Miller’s challenge to the appointment of the Special Counsel fails,” the court wrote in its ruling.

Mueller wants information that Miller may have regarding Stone’s communications with Wikileaks and Russian hackers, according to reporting from CNN.

Unless Miller attempts to appeal the decision, either to an en banc full circuit court or to the Supreme Court, he’ll have to comply with the grand jury’s original subpoena orders or suffer penalties of being found in contempt of court for refusing to do so.

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