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Before Judiciary Committee Votes, Sessions Has Questions to Answer on Justice Department Review of Trump Executive Orders

January 27, 2017

Washington, DC – On reports that the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel could not confirm that it is reviewing President Donald Trump’s executive orders before they are issued – an established OLC responsibility to ensure the President is following the law – Constitutional Accountability Center issued the following reaction: 

“It is stunning to learn that the Office of Legal Counsel in the Trump Justice Department may not be reviewing his executive orders,” said Brianne Gorod, Chief Counsel of Constitutional Accountability Center and former Attorney-Adviser in the OLC under President Barack Obama. “OLC's own website makes clear that the office should be reviewing all executive orders for both ‘form and legality.’ This raises a number of serious questions,” Gorod continued. “If, in fact, OLC is being cut out of the review of executive orders, what comes next? OLC plays a critical role in the Department of Justice, advising the executive branch on a wide range of important legal questions, both constitutional and statutory, to make sure the President follows the law.”

Constitutional Accountability Center President Elizabeth Wydra concluded, “Today’s report only puts more pressure on President Trump’s nominee to lead the Justice Department, Senator Jeff Sessions, to prove his independence. In addition to the other questions – presented to him in writing – that Sessions left unanswered for his colleagues, it is now clear that Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley should delay Tuesday’s planned vote on the Sessions nomination until Sessions can answer, first, whether he approves of President Trump’s possible circumventing of the Office of Legal Counsel in issuing executive orders and, second, whether Sessions would commit to requiring OLC to perform its long-established role of reviewing such orders in the future. Trump’s presidency threatens to be the most corrupt in almost 100 years, and the Attorney General must be up to the job of holding him strictly accountable to the law.”

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Constitutional Accountability Center (www.theusconstitution.org) is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution's text and history.

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