(AP) — The Justice Department is defending the legality of President Barack Obama’s recent recess appointment of a national consumer watchdog and other officials from criticism by Republicans.

The department released a 23-page legal opinion Thursday summarizing the advice it gave the White House before the Jan. 4 appointments. Assistant attorney general Virginia Seitz writes that the president has authority to make such appointments during a congressional recess of the current length. Seitz argues the Senate’s periodic pro forma sessions in which no business is conducted have not enabled the chamber to advise and consent to nominations.

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