Tags: Jeff Sessions | Trump Administration | kellyanne conway | george conway | constitution | matthew whitaker

Kellyanne Conway's Husband Blasts Interim AG Pick as 'Illegal'

the husband of kellyanne conway holds her jacket before a White House dinner event
George Conway (Matt Rourke/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 08 November 2018 07:47 PM

The husband of President Donald Trump's counselor Kellyanne Conway blasted the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as interim attorney general, co-writing an opinion piece that tears into the selection as "illegal" and "unconstitutional."

In the op-ed, lawyers George Conway — who frequently needles his wife's boss on social media — and Neal Katyal argued Matthew Whitaker's selection as interim AG violates the "appointments clause" of the Constitution, an argument similarly used by critics of the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller.

Katyal helped draft the regulations under which Mueller was appointed, the legal website Law & Crime reported. And as interim AG, Whitaker, a Mueller probe critic, will be overseeing that investigation.

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

The argument hinges on the idea the nation's Attorney Gneral is a "principal officer" and must be confirmed by the Senate.

"The public interest protected by the Appointments Clause was a critical one," the pair wrote. "The Constitution's drafters, Justice [Clarence] Thomas argued [in a 2016 case] 'recognized the serious risk for abuse and corruption posed by permitting one person to fill every office in the government.' Which is why, he pointed out, the framers provided for advice and consent of the Senate."

Conway and Katyal referred to "all sorts of technical points about the Vacancies Reform Act and Justice Department succession statutes" that have been used to support Whitaker's appointment — but focused on the "appointments clause" and how the president should not be allowed to select everyone in the government, Law & Crime noted.

Conway and Katyal suggested either Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or Solicitor General Noel Francisco could step up if needed.

"In times of crisis, interim appointments need to be made," Conway and Katyal wrote. "Cabinet officials die, and wars, and other tragic events occur. 

"It is very difficult to see how the current situation comports with those situations. And even if it did, there are officials readily at hand, including the deputy attorney general and the solicitor general, who were nominated by Mr. Trump and confirmed by the Senate. Either could step in as acting attorney general, both constitutionally and statutorily."

University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck disagreed with the lawyers' argument, tweeting Whitaker has not been named as Sessions' permanent replacement — and the Constitution provides the president some flexibility in choosing a temporary replacement.

Still, Vladeck conceded, the issue is "sure to be litigated."

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Co-writing an opinion piece that tears into the selection as "illegal" and "unconstitutional," the husband of President Donald Trump's counselor Kellyanne Conway blasted the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as interim attorney general.
kellyanne conway, george conway, constitution, matthew whitaker
Thursday, 08 November 2018 07:47 PM
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