Published: Fri, November 09, 2018

Judge Nap: Whitaker Not 'Legally Qualified' to Be Acting Attorney General

Judge Nap: Whitaker Not 'Legally Qualified' to Be Acting Attorney General

Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano appeared on "Fox & Friends" Thursday to explain why President Trump's pick for acting attorney general after Jeff Sessions' resignation is professionally but not legally qualified for the role.

Bondi has been a stauncher supporter of Trump during his campaign for the presidency and after taking office. Previously he was a conservative legal commentator who was critical of the scope of Mueller's probe.

Other names being floated include Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who has been handling negotiations with Mueller's team over what questions Trump would have to mention in the Russian Federation probe.

Trump announced in a tweet that Sessions' chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, will become the new acting attorney general.

In that scenario, Mueller's budget could be reduced "so low that his investigation grinds to nearly a halt", Whitaker said during an interview with CNN in July 2017 before he joined the Justice Department.

Under government ethics regulation, federal employees are required to recuse themselves from matters where their impartiality could reasonably be questioned.

Whitaker, a former USA attorney from Iowa who twice ran unsuccessfully for statewide office and founded a law firm with other Republican Party activists, once opined about a scenario in which Trump could fire Sessions and then appoint an acting attorney general who could stifle the funding of Mueller's probe.

He also said there was no real evidence to support allegations Trump obstructed justice, and in an opinion article for The Hill newspaper he said Trump made the "right decision" by firing FBI Director James Comey in 2017. "But we're always ready to rise up and defend the rule of law". If Mr Mueller files a report detailing his conclusions, the new acting attorney general could keep the document from ever becoming public.

"I don't think Whitaker has good cause to fire Mueller. He would have to trump up some charges", Mr Ohlin said. A court might then issue a temporary restraining order blocking his removal.

"Americans must have answers immediately as to the reasoning behind" Trump's move to remove Sessions, he said.

"At your request, I am submitting my resignation", Mr Sessions wrote in the opening of his resignation letter to Trump.

The possibility that Sessions was sacked could open Whitaker's appointment to court challenge by a range of people, including Mueller, impacted by his actions. Trump said Wednesday that he did not plan to stop the investigation.

How could Whitaker impede Mueller without firing him? The president may also decide to instruct Mr Whitaker to fire the entire Mueller team - something Mr Trump says he has the power to do.

Short of legislation meant to protect Mr Mueller, which is unlikely to pass, there is little Congress can do to challenge Mr Whitaker's oversight of Mr Mueller, said Mr Rosenzweig. "The notification to Congress is mostly about transparency".

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