Three leading Democratic US senators filed a lawsuit on Monday accusing Donald Trump of illegally appointing Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, saying the president violated the US constitution and denied the Senate its right to approve the nomination.
"The Court should now resolve the issues properly presented and leave any new legal claims that Miller might make for further proceedings below", Mueller concluded.
Trump named the former prosecutor and television commentator to be acting attorney general on November 7 after forcing attorney general Jeff Sessions to resign. "But we say even if we're wrong, it would be better for everybody to know the answer to this because this is turning into a mess".
Whitaker is also under fire for being part of a company that the Federal Trade Commission shut down in 2017 for being a scam.
Goldstein's motion is not the only legal filing asking a court to decide on the correct acting attorney general. He also has a history of being linked to alleged business scams. Another issue is whether the president must follow a federal law governing succession in the attorney general's office, or whether he can choose to follow a different federal law governing vacancies. That job did not require Senate confirmation.
Sessions had recused himself from the probe, handing the responsibility to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was confirmed by the Senate.
Last Tuesday the state of Maryland asked a federal judge to block Whitaker from acting on behalf of the department in an ongoing court case on health care policy, likewise arguing that he had not been approved by the Senate. The case is Maryland v.
Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), one of the three Democrats who filed the suit, said in a statement, according to The Daily Beast.
FILE - Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Richard Blumenthal of CT and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, in the lawsuit, which argues that Whitaker's appointment violates the Constitution because he has not been confirmed by the Senate. The senators contend they have standing to sue because they were deprived of a vote on Whitaker's appointment.
As speculation swirls over whether Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker might try to rein in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, Mueller's team argued to a federal appeals court Monday that Whitaker's appointment "has no effect" on the special counsel's authority and that Mueller continues to have "the full power and independent authority to exercise all investigative and prosecutorial functions of any United States Attorney".