Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh’s bid for a court order that Matthew G. Whitaker be ousted as acting U.S. attorney general in favor of Deputy AG Rod J. Rosenstein may be just as personal as political.
In announcing his effort to seek the switch, Frosh called President Donald Trump’s selection of Whitaker a “brazen attempt to flout the law and Constitution in bypassing Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rosenstein in favor of a partisan and unqualified staffer.”
Whitaker was the unappointed chief of staff to Jeff Sessions, the U.S. attorney general whose resignation Trump demanded last week. Rosenstein, by contrast, is the appointed deputy U.S. attorney general and, as such, assumed the position of acting attorney general by operation of statute and the Constitution upon Sessions’ departure, Frosh argues in his motion filed Tuesday with U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander in Baltimore.
What Frosh, a Democrat, mentions neither in his court filing nor announcement is the profound respect he has shown for Rosenstein, who served as U.S. attorney for Maryland under Presidents George W. Bush, a Republican, and Barack Obama, a Democrat.
Last year, Frosh wrote to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, urging the panel to support Rosenstein’s confirmation to the No. 2 post at the Justice Department. Frosh called Rosenstein “intelligent, principled and fair” and “an exemplary leader” who “understands the exponential potential of collaboration with other law enforcement agencies and government institutions, and he puts that understanding into practice.”