President Donald Trump lashed back at an op-ed written by George Conway, husband of White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, that criticized Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.
“You mean Mr. Kellyanne Conway? He’s just trying to get publicity for himself,” Trump told reporters on Friday morning.
“Why don’t you ask Kellyanne that question, all right?” he added. “She might know him better than me. I really don’t know the guy.”
Conway wrote that Whitaker’s appointment was “unconstitutional” in a fiery commentary published in The New York Times on Thursday.
“President 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,” argued Conway, a lawyer, in a piece co-written by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal.
Trump’s pick of Whitaker was announced on Wednesday amid the news that Jeff Sessions was resigning as attorney general. In addition to Conway’s criticism, many others have raised issues with the Whitaker selection.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote a letter to Trump on Friday to ask “about the motivations behind this appointment and your authority to make it.”
The critics see problems in Whitaker’s background, including but not limited to his past comments disparaging Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and his ties to a Florida-based company that has been sued by the Federal Trade Commission for “allegedly running an ‘invention-promotion scam,’” according to ABC.
ABC reports that Whitaker was on the board of World Patent Marketing Inc., which “the FTC has called ‘a scam that has bilked thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars,’ from 2014 until 2017.”
The constitutional argument against Whitaker acting as attorney general, raised by Conway and Schumer, is that all principal officers of the government must be confirmed by the Senate. Under the Constitution, Conway wrote, even a temporary attorney general must be someone who was serving in another post to which they had been confirmed by the Senate. Whitaker held no such job.