Fox Reporter Reduced Gun Violence Legal Advice From Attorney General To Ordering From "A Chinese Food Restaurant"
Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS
During the daily White House press briefing, Fox News reporter James Rosen compared President Obama consulting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch about the constitutionality of proposed executive action on gun violence to ordering food at a Chinese restaurant.
In his first weekly address of the year, President Obama announced that he would be consulting with the attorney general to identify his legal options for reducing gun violence.
News reports indicate that he plans, via executive action, to expand background checks as well as tighten rules involving how lost or stolen guns are reported.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told Rosen that President Obama had asked the attorney general to "play a leading role" in determining what legal authority the president has in producing executive guidance that could reduce gun violence.
In response, Rosen asked if that process called "into question the independence of the attorney general if the president can simply call her up like a Chinese food restaurant and order what he wants off the menu and she serves it up?"
Earnest went on to explain to Rosen that the Department of Justice actually has a role in advising the president on what legal avenues are available to him, and which are within the purview of Congress.
In fact, as the Office of the Attorney General's website notes, the position "represents the United States in legal matters generally and gives advice and opinions to the President and to the heads of the executive departments of the Government when so requested," pursuant to the Judiciary Act of 1789. In 1934, the drafting of certain legal opinions of the attorney general was delegated to the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel, which "also is responsible for providing legal advice to the Executive Branch on all constitutional questions and reviewing pending legislation for constitutionality."
Contrary to Rosen's characterization of the meeting as unorthodox or improper, such legal consultation has long been part of the attorney general's constitutional role to advise the executive branch on what, legally, is within their jurisdiction and what is not. It isn't a violation of the office's independence nor is it as simplistic as a food order.