Three Democratic senators on Monday sued to challenge President Donald Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.
Trump named the former prosecutor and television commentator to be acting attorney general on November 7 after forcing attorney general Jeff Sessions to resign.
Amid concerns Whitaker was chosen to protect Trump from the Russia collusion investigation of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, the senators said the president violated the constitution by naming him to lead the Department of Justice without first seeking Senate confirmation.
“The US Senate has not consented to Mr Whitaker serving in any office within the federal government, let alone the highest office of the DOJ.
“The constitutional requirement that principal federal officers be appointed only with the Senate’s ‘advice and consent’… was adopted by our nation’s founders as an important check on the power of the president,” they told the federal court in Washington.
One of the three senators, Sheldon Whitehouse, accused Trump of installing his “lackey” to undermine the Mueller probe.
The White House and the Justice Department both argue that the appointment was legal.
In a statement released on Monday, Justice Department spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec, said it was based on “centuries of practice and precedent” and “comports with… actions of US presidents, both Republican and Democrat.”