Without mentioning Mueller, Trump lawyers urge high court to bolster his power to fire executive officials

The is set to hear a seemingly minor case later this month on the status of administrative judges at the Securities and Exchange Commission, an issue that normally might only draw the interest of those accused of stock fraud.

But the dispute turns on the president’s power to hire and fire officials throughout the government. And it comes just as the White House is saying President believes he has the power to fire special counsel Robert S. III.

Trump’s Solicitor Gen. Noel Francisco intervened in the SEC case to urge the high court to clarify the president’s constitutional power to fire all “officers of the United States” who “exercise significant authority” under the law.

“The Constitution gives the president what the framers saw as the traditional means of ensuring accountability: the power to oversee executive officers through removal,” he wrote in Lucia vs. SEC. “The president is accordingly authorized under our constitutional system to remove all principal officers, as well as all ‘inferior officers’ he has appointed.”

In addition to representing the administration before the Supreme Court, Francisco, a former law clerk for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, could be in line to oversee the Mueller inquiry if Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein is fired. Atty. Gen Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the investigation.

Peter Shane, a law professor at the Ohio State University, called Francisco’s argument a “radical proposition,” and one that goes beyond what is at issue in the case. The justices said they would focus only on how the SEC in-house judges are appointed. But Francisco is asking them to go further and rule on the “removal” issue.

“The solicitor general is obviously trying to goad the court into a broad statement about the removability of all officers of the United States,” Shane said. “Were the court to make any such statement, it would surely be cited by Trump as backing any move by him to fire Mueller directly.”

 

 

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