Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

President Donald Trump speaks to the press before departing the White House for Paris. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump is using Robert Mueller's lack of Senate confirmation to defend his decision to name Matt Whitaker as his acting attorney general.

Reality check: Axios spoke with several legal experts and former DOJ officials about the legality of Whitaker's appointment, and they told us that the key difference between Mueller and Whitaker is the seniority of their current positions, which makes Trump's attempt to compare their lack of Senate confirmation irrelevant.

What Trump said:

"Mueller ... hasn’t gone through the Senate process. You think Whitaker hasn’t, but Whitaker has because he was a really distinguished U.S. attorney in Iowa and he was approved by everybody because to be U.S. attorney, that’s top of the line.
A big complaint people have, Mueller was not Senate confirmed, so he’s doing a report. He wasn’t Senate confirmed. Whitaker was Senate confirmed, and he doesn’t need this, but he was Senate confirmed at the highest level when he was the U.S. attorney from Iowa.”
— Trump to reporters on Friday

What legal experts have told Axios: Mueller's role as special counsel for the Russia investigation is not considered a "principal role," which according to Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution, would require Senate confirmation to occupy. However, the attorney general is considered a principal role, and therefore needs Senate confirmation.

Trump also noted that Whitaker was confirmed by the Senate when he was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa.

  • However, David Rivkin, a constitutional attorney who worked in the White House Counsel's office and Justice Department in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, told Axios that officials who are considered as occupying a principal role are only confirmed for a specific position.
  • Rivkin added that having been confirmed by the Senate before does not mean an official automatically qualifies for a different position — they must be confirmed again for that new principal role.

Yes, but: Lawyers and former DOJ officials disagree on whether an "acting" attorney general — in this case, Whitaker's position — is considered a principal role given the temporary nature of it. Those arguments are laid out here.

Go deeper

Lawmakers call for Israel-Hamas ceasefire amid aerial bombardments

Combination images of Republican Sen. Todd Young and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy. Photo: Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images/Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and 28 Senate Democrats on Sunday called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas as fighting continued into the night.

Driving the news: Young, a ranking member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, joined panel Chair Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) in a bipartisan statement saying: "Israel has the right to defend itself from Hamas' rocket attacks, in a manner proportionate with the threat its citizens are facing.

Bill Gates faces scrutiny over relationship with Microsoft employee, Epstein ties

Photo: Alessandro Di Ciommo/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Representatives for Bill Gates pushed back on claims Sunday that he left Microsoft's board because of an earlier sexual relationship and against two other reports detailing more extensive ties with Jeffrey Epstein than had previously been reported.

Driving the news: Microsoft said in an emailed statement to Axios that it "received a concern" in 2019 that its co-founder "sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000," but denied a Wall Street Journal report that its board members thought Gates should resign over the matter.

AT&T in talks with Discovery to combine media assets

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

AT&T is in talks with media giant Discovery about merging its media assets, like CNN, TBS and TNT, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

Why it matters: A potential merger could allow AT&T and Discovery to better compete with entertainment giants like Disney and Netflix in the video streaming wars.