President Trump's appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general is already facing a legal challenge.
The state of Maryland is preparing to ask a federal judge to declare Whitaker's appointment illegal. This would mean Rod Rosenstein would be declared the legitimate acting attorney general, The New York Times reports. Plaintiffs argue Trump cannot "bypass the constitutional and statutory requirements for appointing someone to that office," and they are seeking an injunction.
Critics have taken issue with the fact that Whitaker did not receive Senate confirmation before being appointed as Jeff Sessions' replacement at the Justice Department. Others have argued it's constitutional for Trump to fill Sessions' role with someone who was not confirmed by the Senate, so long as it's on a temporary basis. Whitaker has been an outspoken critic of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and many have called for Whitaker to recuse himself from that investigation.
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The court challenge is part of an unrelated Affordable Care Act lawsuit brought by the Maryland attorney general in which Sessions is named. The judge, Ellen L. Hollander, needs to replace Sessions as a defendant with his successor, which requires her to determine whether Whitaker is actually Sessions' legal successor, the Times reports.
If the judge rules Whitaker's appointment is illegal, the case would likely head to the Supreme Court, per NBC News.
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