George Conway, Kellyanne Conway’s Husband, Calls Donald Trump’s Appointment Of Matt Whitaker ‘Unconstitutional’ In Op-Ed
George Conway, husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, penned an opinion article in the New York Times published Thursday that blasts President Donald Trump for appointing Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.
In the op-ed, Conway calls Trump’s naming of Whitaker — who replaced the embattled Jeff Sessions to lead the Department of Justice on an interim basis — “unconstitutional.”
So honored, once again, to write this with one of the best lawyers in America, @gtconway3d. The collaboration, and what it says about our Constitution’s ideals and how they transcend party, are deeply meaningful to me.https://t.co/1QpvgtLVX1
— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) November 8, 2018
Conway, an attorney who graduated from Yale Law School, begins his piece by mentioning a conservative law professor named Steven Calabresi who wrote his own op-ed for The Wall Street Journal in May. In this article, Calabresi maintained that naming Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the Russia investigation was unconstitutional. Shortly afterwards, Conway writes, Trump shared a link to the piece on Twitter.
“The appointment of the Special Counsel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Despite that, we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong!” Trump tweeted on June 4.
The appointment of the Special Counsel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Despite that, we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2018
Conway goes on to explain that the Constitution dictates that the Senate must play a role in the nomination and confirmation process for Attorney General.
“Professor Calabresi’s article was based on the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, Article II, Section 2, Clause 2. Under that provision, so-called principal officers of the United States must be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate under its “Advice and Consent” powers,” Conway writes. “He argued that Mr. Mueller was a principal officer because he is exercising significant law enforcement authority and that since he has not been confirmed by the Senate, his appointment was unconstitutional.”
Conway then says Calabresi was incorrect in his assertion, because: a “principal officer” is defined as an official who reports exclusively to the president. Mueller reports to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, whose job security has also been in question in recent months. Therefore, Conway states, Mueller is considered an “inferior officer” rather than a principal one, thus the Senate did not need to approve him.
“But Professor Calabresi and Mr. Trump were right about the core principle. A principal officer must be confirmed by the Senate. And that has a very significant consequence today,” Conway writes. “It means that Mr. Trump’s installation of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general of the United States after forcing the resignation of Jeff Sessions is unconstitutional. It’s illegal. And it means that anything Mr. Whitaker does, or tries to do, in that position is invalid.”
Many had predicted Trump would fire Sessions — with whom he shared an extremely tense relationship — shortly after midterm elections, and was criticized for naming Whitaker as Sessions’ replacement so quickly. Whitaker, a former failed Senate candidate and U.S. Attorney in Iowa, has appeared on CNN frequently to say he believes he can fire Mueller without obstructing justice by cutting the special counsel’s budget and other resources as much as possible. Democrats have already blasted Trump for appointing an attorney general who appears willing to defend him at nearly all costs.
When asked by reporters on Friday about Conway’s op-ed, Trump mocked the lawyer by calling him “Mr. Kellyanne Conway” and saying he was simply “trying to get publicity for himself” with the article.
“Why don’t you ask Kellyanne that question, all right?” I really don’t know the guy,” Trump added.
Asked about op-ed co-written by George Conway calling Matthew Whitaker’s appointment as acting attorney general unconstitutional, Pres. Trump replies, “You mean Mr. Kellyanne Conway?…He’s just trying to get publicity for himself.” https://t.co/rxBfhxQQxn pic.twitter.com/PUnMACjZFE
— ABC News (@ABC) November 9, 2018
Several news outlets have speculated about who could potentially serve as the next permanent U.S. Attorney General, and two names have surged to the top of the list: former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.