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I was in the courtroom that day, and when Francisco made his claim that Trump had rescinded his promise of a Muslim ban, I saw a puzzled look flash across the liberal justices’ faces. Francisco also has taken the lead for the Department of Justice in its briefs supporting Trump's efforts to block subpoenas from the US House of Representatives and a New York grand jury for personal financial documents, including tax returns. (The Supreme Court eventually overturned McDonnell’s conviction.). Francisco, 50, has led the solicitor general's office since September 2017 and been a forceful advocate for President Donald Trump. The division must also defend Mr. Trump against lawsuits accusing him of illegally profiting from his personal business since he took office. He did not say where he was going next but told his staff that he was “amazed” by their work ethic and integrity. He went far beyond the question presented to argue that the president could remove administrative law judges, and any other “inferior” (or “subordinate”) officers, at will.

Mark Joseph Stern covers courts and the law for Slate. But it turns out that the president still issued no such “crystal clear” statement on that or any other day. Recall that, under current Justice Department regulations, Trump can’t fire Mueller himself. Francisco could insist that the special counsel is treating Trump unfairly and demand a “pause,” as Trump lawyers have urged. Show full articles without "Continue Reading" button for {0} hours. Earlier this year, Francisco, in his capacity as solicitor general, weighed in on a Supreme Court case, Lucia v. Securities and Exchange Commission, that revolved around the issue of who, exactly, has authority to appoint administrative law judges. He represented former Virginia Republican Gov. While an acting solicitor general is expected to replace Francisco in the near term, it was not immediately clear who may be tapped to replace him on a permanent basis. What in the world was the solicitor general talking about? Rosenstein, a Republican, is widely considered to be principled and ethical, and has reportedly not hampered the special counsel in any way after appointing Robert Mueller to the job last year. Trump has repeatedly expressed his displeasure over this fact, berating Sessions for recusing himself and telling him to shut down the probe. And Francisco’s sweeping argument appeared to lay the constitutional groundwork for the possibility that Trump might fire the special counsel or demand his termination. Sessions from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election — a decision that poisoned the relationship between Mr. Trump and his first attorney general. The president had initially offered the job to George T. Conway III, who is married to Kellyanne Conway, the counselor to Mr. Trump, and who has emerged as one of the president’s sharpest public critics. Mueller has secured numerous convictions and indictments, most recently obtaining a plea deal from former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The program came under intense scrutiny in 2004, when then-Attorney General John Ashcroft was hospitalized with gallbladder complications. The official, Joseph H. Hunt, who previously was chief of staff to Jeff Sessions when he was the attorney general, did not say why he was leaving, and a Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on his departure.

If and when Rosenstein is ousted, his move will put Mueller’s investigation in serious jeopardy. On Monday, Axios reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had offered his resignation in the wake of a New York Times report that Rosenstein suggested covertly recording Trump and discussed the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office. In fact, that decision was made by State Department officials and seems to be infected with bias and caprice. That has compelled some Democratic solicitors general to defend conservative arguments, and vice versa.

(He’d need an ethics waiver because his old law firm, Jones Day, now represents Trump—but that would be easy to obtain.) All contents © 2020 The Slate Group LLC. Powerful political allies are often selected for high-ranking positions in the administration, so Mr. Trump’s choice of a career lawyer like Mr. Hunt for such a key post was somewhat unusual. Philbin -- then the associate deputy attorney general -- was present when Comey told then-Vice President Dick Cheney that the Justice Department would not reauthorize the spying program. Slate is published by The Slate Group, a Graham Holdings Company. In July, these same House Republicans briefly filed articles of impeachment against Rosenstein for not acquiescing to enough of those demands. The framers understood the close connection between the president’s ability to discharge his responsibilities as head of the executive branch and his control over its personnel. All rights reserved. Once the solicitor general assumes responsibility over the Russia probe, the path to Mueller’s termination is straightforward: Either Trump fires him, or he instructs Francisco to fire him—and Francisco insists that he has no choice but to oblige, because the president is merely executing his inherent power “to hold his subordinates accountable.”. If you value our work, please disable your ad blocker. It’s pretty clear that Noel Francisco is not an institutionalist like Rod Rosenstein. It came hours after the department filed a lawsuit signed by Mr. Hunt against President Trump’s former national security adviser John R. Bolton. Besides Mr. Hunt, Brian A. Benczkowski, the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, said last week that he was leaving in July, and Noel J. Francisco, the solicitor general, told officials at the department that he planned to leave when the Supreme Court wrapped up its session this month.

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