Fox News has acted as the de-facto state media outlet for Donald Trump since before he even began his term, but every once in a while one of their contributors departs the partisan bubble to convey a message that contradicts the normally fallacious official narrative being foisted by the White House.
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Normally, that role is played by anchor Shepard Smith, who just last week undercut Trump’s signature campaign fear-mongering by calmly reassuring Fox News‘ audience of doddering retirees that the caravan everyone else on the network was hyping relentlessly as an imminent threat was simply overblown electioneering.
“There is no invasion. No one’s coming to get you. There’s nothing at all to worry about,” Smith credibly declared.
Now, Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano is poking holes in the Trump administration’s appointment of Matt Whitaker as acting Attorney General in the wake of the Jeff Sessions’ forced resignation as potentially illegal.
Napolitano explained to Fox News host Dana Perino about the problematic legal issues that Whitaker’s appointment raised by virtue of the fact that he’s never been confirmed by the Senate for any previous position.
“Under the law, the person running the Department of Justice must have been approved by the United States Senate for some previous position. Even on an interim post,” Napolitano told Perino.
“[Whitaker] was not confirmed by the United States Senate for a leadership position at the Justice Department. The White House will have to work this out. Who has been confirmed and who’s next in line? Deputy attorney general Rosenstein,” he said.
Whitaker may be facing more than just questions about the legality and legitimacy of his appointment to the seat vacated by Sessions, according to Napolitano. His being tapped for the role could, in fact, make him a subject of the Mueller probe into Trump’s continued efforts to obstruct justice in the investigation of collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“The president can fire an attorney general if for almost any reason. He cannot fire him if the purpose is to shake up the leadership of the Justice Department in order to interfere with a criminal investigation that the president wants to interfere with,” Napolitano said.
“If that’s the reason for which Mr. Whitaker is now the acting Attorney General of the United States — Mr. Whitaker himself could be in the crosshairs of Bob Mueller,” he added.
The legal issues in question are complicated by the fact that any prosecution of the crimes involved would have to go through the very Justice Department that Whitaker has been appointed to lead and would normally require that Whitaker, like Sessions before him, recuse himself from overseeing the investigation.
Given the antipathy that Sessions’ recusal inspired with the President previously, don’t expect anything to follow the normal guidelines in the Justice Department moving forward.
At least in January, however, a newly-installed Democratic House of Representatives can subpoena everyone involved in the decision to fire Sessions and install Whitaker and can re-open the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe so that evidence of Trump’s criminality is not swept under the rug, no matter what happens to the Mueller inquiry next.
It’s going to be an interesting lame duck session until then, that’s for sure.
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Original reporting by Dominique Jackson at RawStory.