George Conway, the conservative lawyer and husband of President Trump’s counselor, Kellyanne Conway, is publicly dismissing her boss’s claim that special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is unconstitutional.
In a 3,300-word op-ed entitled “The Terrible Arguments Against the Constitutionality of the Mueller Investigation” that was published Monday on the national security and legal blog Lawfare, Conway writes that “there is no serious argument” that Mueller’s appointment violates the Constitution.
Last week, Trump declared Mueller’s probe to be “totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL” in a tweet that had to be reissued because he initially spelled “counsel” wrong.
The appointment of the Special Counsel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Despite that, we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2018
Arguing that attacks based on constitutionality should be at least “well-grounded in law and fact,” Conway writes that the “the ‘constitutional’ arguments made against the special counsel do not meet that standard and had little more rigor than the tweet that promoted them.” He adds, “Such a lack of rigor, sadly, has been a disturbing trend in much of the politically charged public discourse about the law lately, and one that lawyers — regardless of their politics — owe a duty to abjure.”
According to Conway, Trump appears to be taking cues from recent arguments authored by Steven Calabresi, conservative legal scholar and co-founder of the Federalist Society.
“Unfortunately for the president, these writings are no more correct than the spelling in his original tweet,” Conway writes.
In an op-ed published last month by the Washington Post, Calabresi contended that Mueller’s appointment as special counsel should be “null and void” because it violates the Appointments Clause of the Constitution.
Article II stipulates that the president has the power to nominate ambassadors, Supreme Court judges and other officials with the consent of the Senate. Calabresi argues that Mueller is operating as a principal officer and that his appointment by acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — and not Trump — violates that clause.
“Calabresi paints Mueller as a rogue prosecutor run amok,” Conway writes. “He bizarrely accuses Mueller of, among other things, orchestrating ‘controlled leaks of information to the press designed to embarrass the President and hinder him in the performance of his duties,’ ‘wiretapp[ing] telephone calls covered by Attorney-client [sic] privilege between President Trump and his longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen,’ and ‘illegally obtain[ing] a phone log of Cohen’s phone calls.’ In support of all these serious charges and other censorious claims, Calabresi cites nothing.”
Conway takes specific issue with the argument that Mueller “does not have a boss who is supervising and directing what he is doing,” and he points to Rosenstein’s congressional testimony about overseeing Mueller’s probe.
“Rosenstein’s testimony thus confirms that Special Counsel Mueller does have an active principal-officer boss,” Conway writes. “Indeed, it suggests that Mueller is probably being supervised and directed more closely than any of the 93 U.S attorneys from Maryland to Guam.”
It’s not the first time George Conway has openly criticized the president and his defenders. He has frequently used his Twitter feed to push back against some of Trump’s controversial policies, including the travel ban and the president’s repeated characterization of Mueller’s probe as a “witch hunt.”
In April, Kellyanne Conway bristled when she was asked by CNN’s Dana Bash about her husband’s tweets, accusing Bash of trying to “harass and embarrass” her live on the air.
“It’s fascinating to me that CNN would go there,” Conway said. “But it’s very good for the whole world to just witness that it’s now fair game how people’s spouses and significant others may differ with them.”
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