Donald Trump asked and received Jeff Sessions’ resignation as Attorney General yesterday afternoon. The timing of the move was questioned by some who saw it as a distraction from the GOP’s midterm losses.
The White House quickly moved to name Iowa-based Matt Whitaker as the Acting Attorney General. Fox News’ Andrew Napolitano has opined that Whitaker is ineligible for the position since he has not been confirmed.
Whitaker was confirmed by the Senate as a US Attorney, however, the position of Acting Attorney General requires additional confirmation. According to Napolitano, Rod Rosenstein, Noel Francisco, and an unnamed attorney would be the only people legally eligible to take the position.
According to Napolitano, “The statute requires that the human being who runs the Department of Justice had been confirmed by the Senate for a senior leadership position.”
Francisco, who serves as Solicitor General, was widely expected to be Trump’s choice. Francisco’s previous work with Jones Day, however, may have caused problems with his confirmation process.
Whitaker, if the choice goes ahead, will also be in for a tough confirmation process. He has previously made comments that questions the purpose of the Mueller probe.
Whitaker wrote in a CNN op-ed, “It is time for Rosenstein, who is the acting attorney general for the purposes of this investigation, to order Mueller to limit the scope of his investigation to the four corners of the order appointing him special counsel. If he doesn’t, then Mueller’s investigation will eventually start to look like a political fishing expedition.”
Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez agreed with Napolitano’s take. He wrote, “Whitaker is not an independent law enforcement official. Nor was he confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve in this role. He is a Trump acolyte committed to protecting the president against any consequences for his potential crimes.”
If the White House does push ahead and eventually nominate Whitaker to be the next Attorney General, this is sure to create a very heated confirmation process.
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Todd Neikirk is a New Jersey-based politics and technology writer. His work has been featured in psfk.com, foxsports.com, and PoliticusUSA. An avid pet lover, he has been known to contribute to Pet Lifestyles Magazine. He enjoys sports, politics, technology, and spending time at the shore with his family.