To quote Yogi Berra, “it’s like déjà vu all over again.” For at least the fourth time in just over two years, a dispute has arisen over the president’s authority to name “acting” agency heads under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA) of 1998. This time around, the debate involves the Department of Homeland Security—and the resignation/firing/un-resignation/ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
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Since the 1950s, presidents have consistently allocated roughly 30 percent of ambassadorial appointments to individuals who are not career diplomats. This practice, atypical among advanced democracies and a recurrent source of controversy, is currently on track to expand: Over the first two years of the Trump administration, more than 40 percent of appointments to bilateral ambassadorships went to presidential supporters who are not foreign service officers. For example, Robert Wood Johnson IV—the ambassador to the United Kingdom—co-owns the New York Jets.
“I don’t think there’ll be a report,” President Trump’s former attorney, John Dowd, recently told ABC News. “I will be shocked if anything regarding the president is made public, other than ‘We’re done.’” Referring to a possible report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Dowd suggested Mueller won’t release a detailed public accounting of the results of the investigation because he has nothing on Trump.
A president like Donald Trump, who behaves outlandishly and governs recklessly, poses unique challenges to other institutional actors. Jack Goldsmith, among others, has identified how those who who flout norms in answering the president's own norm-busting chart a dangerous path from which there will be no simple or certain return.
Below is the prepared statement that former Attorney General William Barr will deliver at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 15.
In the spring of 2001, Bill Barr, the former attorney general under George H.W. Bush who has now been tapped to resume that role under Donald Trump, sat for an oral history interview sponsored by the University of Virginia’s Miller Center.
One month to the day since Attorney General Jeff Sessions left the Justice Department, President Trump indicated to reporters that he will nominate former Attorney General William Barr to serve as Session’s replacement.
Three senators—Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)—have sued President Trump and Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker over Trump’s installation of Whitaker at the Justice Department’s helm.
As Lawfare readers have probably noticed, there has been a fair amount of controversy over Matthew Whitaker's designation as acting attorney general as of late. To keep track of it all, we at Lawfare have put together a resource page collecting all litigation documents regarding Whitaker's appointment, ranging from outright challenges to Whitaker's role as acting attorney general (Maryland v. U.S., Blumenthal v. Whitaker, and Michaels v.
On Monday, Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Sheldon Whitehouse and Mazie K. Hirono filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asking a federal judge to decide the legality of Matthew Whitaker's service as acting attorney general. The senators argue that Whitaker's appointment is in violation of the Appointments Clause as Whitaker was not confirmed by the U.S. Senate in his prior post. The full complaint is below.