Matt Whitaker, appearing on CNN. Credit: Screen grab from YouTube

The Trump administration will now have to defend Matthew Whitaker’s role as acting attorney general in court, after a Maryland federal court filing challenged his appointment Tuesday.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh has asked U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander to issue a preliminary injunction that declares Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, instead of Whitaker, as the acting attorney general.

The filing comes amid public debate over who the rightful head of the Department of Justice is. President Donald Trump named Whitaker as the acting chief last week after former Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned at the White House’s request.

Frosh, who is getting a lift from U.S. Supreme Court lawyer Tom Goldstein of Goldstein & Russell, filed the motion as part of ongoing litigation related to the Affordable Care Act. The Maryland attorney general’s office had brought a lawsuit naming the now-ousted Sessions as a defendant.

Frosh, seeking to substitute Rosenstein as acting AG in the case, asked Hollander to expedite consideration of Tuesday’s motion, citing the “significant and time-sensitive issues” of the case.

Tuesday’s filing argues that Whitaker’s appointment violates the Attorney General Succession Act, as well as the Constitution’s appointments clause.

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