Last night, President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to enforce his executive order on immigration. Yates was a holdover from the Obama administration, as Senate Democrats have kept delaying conforming Trump’s attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). Sessions is expected to be confirmed by Senate.
Yates wrote a letter stating that the Department of Justice would not defend the president’s executive order, specifically the moratorium on immigration from seven predominately Muslim nations. She added that she didn’t think the order was legal. She added that the institution has the obligation to fight for justice and stand for what’s right.
She wrote "I am not convinced" that EO is lawful. She did not conclude it was unlawful, nor did she write about its constitutionality.— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) January 31, 2017
It was an entirely improper standard to apply. "I don't know, so we won't defend it" has never been DOJ's standard for declining to defend.— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) January 31, 2017
Fired Sally Yates letter devoid of legal argument. Reeks of moral preening, grandstanding. pic.twitter.com/J7RdnRrzxs— Brit Hume (@brithume) January 31, 2017
“At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful,” she wrote.
Hours after her announcement, President Trump fired her and was replaced by U.S. Attorney Dana Boente, who said he would enforce the order. He was sworn in as the new acting attorney general at 9 P.M. last night.
The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff had Acting Attorney General Boente’s statement upon taking the office.
“I am humbled and incredibly honored to serve as Acting Attorney General. Based upon the Office of Legal Counsel’s analysis, which found the Executive Order both lawful on its face and properly drafted, I hereby rescind former Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates January 30. 2017, guidance and direct the men and women of the Department of Justice to do our sworn duty to defend the lawful orders of our President.”
Boente was Senate confirmed as a U.S. Attorney and can execute all the duties of the office, including signing off on surveillance warrants.
According to statement sent out at 11:45pm, Acting AG Boente has reversed Yates' decision on the EO pic.twitter.com/J6gnpiTI3i— Betsy Woodruff (@woodruffbets) January 31, 2017