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Photo: Department of Interior

A federal judge on Friday ordered that William Pendley be removed from his acting role as head of the Bureau of Land Management, saying he served unlawfully in the position for 424 days, per AP.

Driving the news: U.S. District Judge Brian Morris said the former oil industry attorney acted illegally in the role without Senate confirmation, as required.

  • Earlier this year, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) sued to remove Pendley, arguing he was illegally overseeing the agency.
  • Though Pendley's nomination was withdrawn in early September, he continued to oversee the agency based on an "unusual arrangement" he orchestrated, AP writes.

The big picture: The Trump administration has tried to avoid the the confirmation process for multiple positions, instead filling the seats with temporary appointments.

Go deeper

Sep 27, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Graham hopes his panel will approve Amy Coney Barrett by late October

Sen. Lindsey Graham during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News Saturday he expects confirmation hearings on Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court to start Oct. 12 and for his panel to approve her by Oct. 26.

Why it matters: That would mean the final confirmation vote could take place on the Senate floor before the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Updated 11 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump grants flurry of last-minute pardons

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty

President Trump issued 73 pardons and commuted the sentences of 70 individuals early Wednesday, 11 hours from leaving office.

Why it matters: It's a last-minute gift to some of the president's loyalists and an evident use of executive power with only hours left of his presidency. Axios reported in December that Trump planned to grant pardons to "every person who ever talked to me."

56 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump revokes ethics order barring former aides from lobbying

Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty

Shortly after pardoning members of Congress and lobbyists convicted on corruption charges, President Trump revoked an executive order barring former officials from lobbying for five years after leaving his administration.

Why it matters: The order, which was signed eight days after he took office, was an attempt to fulfill his campaign promise to "drain the swamp."

  • But with less than 12 hours left in office, Trump has now removed those limitations on his own aides.

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