A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday turned aside a legal challenge to the Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, ruling that Robert Mueller was legally appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, rejecting the arguments brought by an associate of Roger Stone.
A three judge panel said Andrew Miller, who has been found in contempt of court for refusing to comply with a grand jury subpoena, did not prove that Mueller's appointment was illegal, as the judges said Rosenstein was legally vested with the power to appoint Mueller, with then Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused from the Russia investigation.
"The statutory and regulatory scheme demonstrate, contrary to Miller’s contention, that at the time of Special Counsel Mueller’s appointment, Acting Attorney General Rosenstein was the “Head of Department” under the Appointments Clause as to the matter on which the Attorney General was recused," the judges ruled in a 16 page opinion issued on Tuesday morning.
"Miller’s view that the Attorney General’s recusal did not make the Deputy Attorney General the “Acting” Attorney General, and, therefore, the Deputy Attorney General lacked authority to appoint Special Counsel Mueller as an inferior officer, ignores the statutory scheme," the ruling added.
A federal district judge had ruled against Miller’s bid to avoid grand jury testimony - today’s ruling affirmed that.
“Special Counsel Mueller was properly appointed by a head of Department, who at the time was the Acting Attorney General,” the judges wrote, referring to the actions of Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.
Miller’s effort to avoid grand jury testimony is one of two cases which the Special Counsel has been fighting in federal courts in Washington - the other involves the ‘mystery’ case of a foreign company owned by a still unnamed foreign government.
Miller’s options include accepting the decision and testifying before the grand jury, appealing this case to the U.S. Supreme Court, or continuing to defy the order to testify - in which case he could be jailed.
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