First Asian American Solicitor General Both in the Spotlight and Shadow
As the fate of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein hangs in the balance, the spotlight turns to Solicitor General Noel Francisco. He is the next Senate-confirmed Justice Department official in line, which means the Mueller investigation would drop to him. Regular Beat readers will already be familiar with Francisco, but here’s a recap for those new to the fold. The 49-year-old is the first Asian American to serve in the position -- his father is of Filipino ancestry (though Neal Kaytal served as the Acting Solicitor General during the Barack Obama administration). The prominent Republican lawyer clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and worked in the DOJ during the George W. Bush administration. He was on the team of lawyers representing Bush in the Florida recount during the 2000 presidential election, as were now-Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and now-SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts. Francisco served as Associate Counsel to then-President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003, and then served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel until 2005. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago where he also completed law school in 1996. Before joining the Trump administration, he represented former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell as a partner at Jones Day when the Supreme Court overturned McDonnell’s conviction on corruption charges in 2016. As Rosenstein-gate broke, Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, called on his GOP colleagues to hold an emergency hearing if Rosenstein is forced out of his position. At the center of it all is this burning question: how would Francisco handle the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election? Will he allow Mueller to continue the investigation? Or opt to curtail Mueller’s mandate and even shut it all down? Or is all of this moot because Rosenstein isn’t going anywhere? All questions to be answered in the coming news cycles. Stay tuned. More here.