George T. Conway III, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, has co-authored an op-ed arguing that President Trump’s move to replace ex-Attorney General Jeff Sessions with Matthew Witaker on Wednesday was “unconstitutional.”
“President Trump’s installation of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general of the United States after forcing the resignation of Jeff Sessions is unconstitutional,” Conway, an attorney and a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School, wrote with his co-author, lawyer Neal Katyal, in a piece published by the New York Times on Thursday. “It’s illegal. And it means that anything Mr. Whitaker does, or tries to do, in that position is invalid.”
The op-ed asserts that the president’s decision to appoint Whitaker as acting attorney general is in violation of the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, which stipulates that principal officers must be confirmed by the Senate before serving.
Because Whitaker wasn’t Senate confirmed, “there has been no mechanism for scrutinizing whether he has the character and ability to evenhandedly enforce the law in such a position of grave responsibility,” the piece argues. “The public is entitled to that assurance, especially since Mr. Whitaker’s only supervisor is President Trump himself, and the president is hopelessly compromised by the Mueller investigation.”
Sessions submitted a letter of resignation Wednesday at Trump’s request. Trump announced that Whitaker, Sessions’s chief of staff, would take over for Sessions and oversee the special counsel probe.
Whitaker’s has written several public op-eds criticizing Mueller’s investigation.
“For the president to install Mr. Whitaker as our chief law enforcement officer is to betray the entire structure of our charter document,” Conway and Katyal write.
The op-ed cites a Supreme Court decision that ruled the appointment of a lawyer at the National Labor Relations Board invalid because he had not been confirmed by the Senate.
“What goes for a mere lawyer at the [National Labor Relations Board] goes in spades for the attorney general of the United States, the head of the Justice Department and one of the most important people in the federal government,” Conway and Katyal write.