Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley on 11/13.
CNN
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley on 11/13.
Now playing
01:56
Grassley downplays concerns over Whitaker
U.S. Marines conduct an operation to clear a village of Taliban fighters in July 2009 in Mian Poshteh, Afghanistan.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
U.S. Marines conduct an operation to clear a village of Taliban fighters in July 2009 in Mian Poshteh, Afghanistan.
Now playing
03:19
Biden to announce Afghanistan withdrawal by September 11
roger wicker
CNN
roger wicker
Now playing
04:52
Sen. Wicker on Biden's infrastructure plan: Not ruling out tax hike
Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) arrives for a House Armed Services Subcommittee hearing with members of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee on Capitol Hill on December 9, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Samuel Corum/Getty Images
Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) arrives for a House Armed Services Subcommittee hearing with members of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee on Capitol Hill on December 9, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Now playing
03:02
Sources say Gaetz was denied meeting with Trump
CNN
Now playing
02:58
Avlon: This shows that crazy has a constituency
CNN
Now playing
07:27
CNN anchor pushes back on Texas state lawmaker's defense of voting bill
CNN
Now playing
01:12
Tapper asks Buttigieg for infrastructure plan timeline
Now playing
02:48
GOP governor calls Trump's RNC remarks 'divisive'
WASHINGTON, D.C. - APRIL 19, 2018:  The U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., is the seat of the Supreme Court of the United States and the Judicial Branch of government. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
Robert Alexander/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, D.C. - APRIL 19, 2018: The U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., is the seat of the Supreme Court of the United States and the Judicial Branch of government. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:39
SCOTUS blocks California Covid restriction on religious activities
rep jim clyburn georgia voting law jim crow sot sotu vpx_00000000.png
rep jim clyburn georgia voting law jim crow sot sotu vpx_00000000.png
Now playing
02:13
Rep. Clyburn blasts GA voting law: It's the 'new Jim Crow'
Joe Manchin
CNN
Joe Manchin
Now playing
02:03
'I never thought in my life ...' Why Manchin won't walk away from bipartisanship
Gaetz speaks to members of the media outside the hearing Michael Cohen, former attorney and fixer for President Donald Trump, testifies at before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform at Rayburn House Office Building February 27, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Last year Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine for tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, unlawful excessive campaign contributions and lying to Congress as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Gaetz speaks to members of the media outside the hearing Michael Cohen, former attorney and fixer for President Donald Trump, testifies at before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform at Rayburn House Office Building February 27, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Last year Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine for tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, unlawful excessive campaign contributions and lying to Congress as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections.
Now playing
06:11
'Bombastic, antagonistic, unapologetic': A look at Gaetz's political career
Former House Speaker John Boehner attends a ceremony to unveil a portrait of himself on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019 in Washington.
Michael A. McCoy/AP
Former House Speaker John Boehner attends a ceremony to unveil a portrait of himself on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019 in Washington.
Now playing
02:42
Boehner says Republican colleague held 10-inch knife to his throat outside House floor
President Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris, and Attorney General Merrick Garland, speaks about gun violence prevention in the Rose Garden at the White House, Thursday, April 8, 2021, in Washington.
Andrew Harnik/AP
President Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris, and Attorney General Merrick Garland, speaks about gun violence prevention in the Rose Garden at the White House, Thursday, April 8, 2021, in Washington.
Now playing
02:05
Biden calls for ban on assault weapons
CNN
Now playing
02:22
Biden: High-speed internet is infrastructure
AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
03:24
Donald Trump breaks his silence on Matt Gaetz
(CNN) —  

The Justice Department, citing the partial government shutdown, is asking a judge to put on hold a lawsuit brought by three Democratic senators who are challenging President Donald Trump’s appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.

The filing is the latest indication of how the shutdown is impacting government operations.

The case is brought by Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. They argue Whitaker’s appointment violates the Appointments Clause of the Constitution.

In the motion, filed with the US District Court for the District of Columbia, Assistant Attorney General Joseph Hunt says the department is unable to respond to the complaint “until Congress has restored appropriations to the Department.” He added that the government does not know when funding will be restored by Congress.

“We greatly regret any disruption,” he said.

Whitaker, who was appointed by Trump in November following the ouster of Jeff Sessions, has been criticized by Democrats over his past objections to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

The Justice Department has defended Whitaker’s appointment, concluding that it was legally justified under the Vacancies Reform Act because it’s a temporary appointment and “he had been serving in the Department of Justice at a sufficiently senior pay level for over a year.” He had previously served as Sessions’ chief of staff.

The Senate Democrats’ lawsuit, however, argues that his appointment is unconstitutional under the Constitution’s Appointments Clause requiring Senate confirmation of high-level federal appointees.

Trump has nominated William Barr to take over the Justice Department on a permanent basis.