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November 19, 2018

Some Senate Democrats are taking their grievances with Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker's appointment to court.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) are filing a lawsuit against Whitaker and President Trump in U.S. District Court, The Daily Beast reported Monday. Their argument is that Trump violated the Appointments Clause of the Constitution when he named Whitaker the acting attorney general since he was not confirmed by the Senate. Prior to his appointment, Whitaker was former Attorney General Jeff Sessions' chief of staff, a job that didn't require Senate confirmation.

The constitutionality of Whitaker's appointment has been the subject of debate for this reason. Last week, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel argued in a memo that Whitaker's appointment was constitutional and that while "presidents often choose acting principal officers from among Senate-confirmed officers ... the Constitution does not mandate that choice."

This is not the first legal challenge Whitaker has faced, as the state of Maryland is also battling the appointment in court, arguing that Trump is trying to "bypass the constitutional and statutory requirements for appointing someone to that office." Trump has defended Whitaker's appointment by saying that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was not Senate-confirmed either, although this was not a requirement. Brendan Morrow

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