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Ministry of Justice ready to submit legal opinion in support of Whitaker



WASHINGTON – The Justice Department is expected to release a legal opinion on Tuesday to support the installation of Matthew Whitaker as deputy attorney general, said a person familiar with the matter and wondered if he could legitimately serve the role.

From office of the legal adviser of department it is expected that President Trump had the possibility to appoint Mr. Whitaker, said the person. Mr. Whitaker took over last week as provisional replacement for former Attorney General Jeff Sessions when Mr. Sessions was ousted by Mr. Trump.

The opinion is expected to endorse the position of the Trump administration, which confirms the President's power to withdraw Mr Whitaker through guidelines issued by the Office in 2003. At that time, the bureau concluded that President George W. Bush was a confirmed employee of the Department of Management and Budget as acting director of the agency.

Like the Attorney General, the OMB Director is a senior official of the Federal Government. The 2003 Opinion circumvented this problem by defining a deputy director as an "inferior officer" who, under the precedent of the Supreme Court, does not provide for appointment by the Senate.

Critics from across the ideological spectrum have said that the appointment of Mr. Whitaker is a potentially invalid end to the Senate's power to "give advice and consent" to executive nominations. Others have said that the appointment of Mr. Whitaker was lawful under the law called Vacancy Reform Act.

In addition, others claim that Mr Whitaker's links to a witness in Special Envoy Robert Mueller, who has studied Russia's interference in the 201

6 elections and his critical comments on this investigation in the past, raise questions about his impartiality and his Ability to monitor this. The Special Adviser should be isolated from political considerations.

It is unlikely that the lawyer's office will suppress the debate over Mr. Whitaker's leadership. The appointment could still face a legal challenge that, if successful, could nullify the actions undertaken by Mr. Whitaker as Deputy Prosecutor General. Acting officials are often viewed as placeholders who do not pursue political initiatives until a permanent official is confirmed by the Senate.

Although short-lived, the appointment of Mr. Whitaker, the chairman of Mr. Sessions's staff, could have far-reaching consequences, including for the Müller investigation.

Congressional Democrats urged the Justice Department on Monday to explain any ethical advice that Whitaker has sought or received since taking office, as well as questions about his oversight of the Russia probe.

– in fact as well as in appearance – independent and impartial. Regrettably, Mr Whitaker's statements point to a clear bias against the investigations that would cause a reasonable person to question his impartiality, "wrote the Democrats.

The Ministry of Justice did not respond to a request for comment on this

Congress is preparing to return to Washington on Tuesday for the first time since the midterm elections on November 6, when Democrats took control of the House and Republicans held a tight Senate majority The Chamber can initiate investigations and blame Democrats, and several party leaders have signaled that they are planning the appointment of Mr Whitaker.

Many Republicans say they are not concerned by the appointment of Mr Whitaker's earlier comments, that of the Müller inquiry were critical. "I'm confident that Mr. Miller may perform his work without interference, "said Senator Lindsey Graham (R., SC), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on CBS on Sunday.

The Democrats The letter was signed by Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the leaders of the Democrats in Parliament and the Senate. The top Democrats in the House and Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees signed the letter, as did the high-ranking Democrat in the House Surveillance and Government Reform Committee.

A request for the appointment of Mr Whitaker could land at the Supreme Court. In recent years, the court has invalidated several appointments to senior executives on the National Labor Relations Board, including the appointment of President Obama to the board during a brief pause by the Senate in 2012 and his decision to appoint a general representative of the Board of Directors in 2011 active in office.

These decisions challenged hundreds of decisions made by officials on the post and forced the agency to revisit them. Legal experts said the Justice Department would probably keep these decisions in mind when advising Mr Whitaker on any action he might challenge. A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice declined to comment on whether the lawyer's office was influencing whether Mr. Whitaker's actions could be invalidated. He is accused of cheating millions of clients during the time that Mr. Whitaker worked as a paid advisor, the Wall Street Journal reported. As Attorney General, Mr. Whitaker has authority over the FBI, which is part of the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice said Whitaker has no known fraudulent activity.

Mr. Whitaker ran a conservative political non-profit organization and frequently appeared on cable television as a legal commentator before becoming chief of staff of Mr. Sessions.

Mr. Trump has praised Mr. Whitaker, but also distanced himself from him.

Write to Sadie Gurman at sadie.gurman@wsj.com and Byron Tau at byron.tau@wsj.com


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