George Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, co-wrote an op-ed in the New York Times published Thursday arguing that President Donald Trump‘s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general is unconstitutional because he wasn’t confirmed by the Senate.
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“It’s illegal. And it means that anything Mr. Whitaker does, or tries to do, in that position is invalid,” Conway, a lawyer, and Neal Katyal, also a Washington lawyer and former acting solicitor general under President Barack Obama, wrote in the New York Times.
“Because Mr. Whitaker has not undergone the process of Senate confirmation, there has been no mechanism for scrutinizing whether he has the character and ability to evenhandedly enforce the law in a position of such grave responsibility. The public is entitled to that assurance, especially since Mr. Whitaker’s only supervisor is Mr. Trump himself, and the president is hopelessly compromised by the Mueller investigation,” Conway and Katyal wrote.
It’s not the first time Conway has publicly shared views opposing those of his wife’s boss. Conway and Katyal recently wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post arguing that Trump’s proposal to end birthright citizenship is unconstitutional.
Whitaker was appointed to replace former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who resigned Wednesday “at the president’s request,” Sessions said. Whitaker was confirmed by the Senate as a federal prosecutor in Iowa in 2004, but did not undergo Senate confirmation for his current position.
“We cannot tolerate such an evasion of the Constitution’s very explicit, textually precise design. Senate confirmation exists for a simple, and good, reason. Constitutionally, Matthew Whitaker is a nobody. His job as Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff did not require Senate confirmation,” they wrote.
“For the president to install Mr. Whitaker as our chief law enforcement officer is to betray the entire structure of our charter document.”
Conway and Katyal also argued that Whitaker’s appointment is particularly significant given the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, which Whitaker has publicly criticized. Sessions’ relationship with the president devolved over his recusal from the probe.