In 2015, Judge Sally Yates for the Northern District of Georgia was nominated by then-President Obama to become deputy attorney general. During her confirmation hearing, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) had a series of questions relating to protecting the rule of law, the integrity of the Justice Department, and pushing back against the presidency if they push things that are not lawful.
Yates said that she loves her work, the Department of Justice, and would do all that she can to defend its integrity.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS: You have to watch out because people will be asking you to do things and you need to say no. You think the attorney general has the responsibility to say no to the president if he asks for something that's improper? A lot of people have defended the [Loretta] Lynch nomination, for example, by saying, ‘Well, he appoints somebody who’s going to execute his views, what’s wrong with that?' But if the views the president wants to execute are unlawful, should the attorney general or the deputy attorney general say no?”
JUDGE SALLY Q. YATES: Senator, I believe the attorney general or the deputy attorney general has an obligation to follow the law and the Constitution and to give their independent legal advice to the president,” replied Yates.
SESSIONS: Well, that’s true. And like any CEO with a law firm sometimes the lawyers have to tell the CEO, ‘Mr. CEO, you can’t do that. Don’t do that we’ll get us sued. It’s going to be in violation of the law; you’ll regret it. Please. No matter how headstrong they might be. Do you feel like that’s the duty of the attorney general’s office?
YATES: I do believe that is the duty of the attorney general’s office, to fairly and impartially evaluate the law and to provide the president and the administration with impartial legal advice.”
The Left is trying to show that Yates was doing her job, and that Sessions said it was proper for the attorney general to push back against the president should he engage in a motion that is unlawful and unconstitutional. Democrats don’t agree with President Trump’s executive order and they think it’s unconstitutional. They disagree with the policy. That’s not the same thing as it being unlawful and unconstitutional, which are what lawyers Jonathan Turley and Alan Dershowitz said over this incident. Both men vociferously disagree with Trump’s executive order, but noted that the president was well within his authority to fire Yates. Dershowitz said that she wanted to be a “holdover hero,” which is an easy way to liberal martyrdom since she was on her way out.
Yates penned a letter informing that the DOJ would not defend Trump’s executive order, which led to her dismissal hours later. Turley also said that on a constitutional basis, the law was on the side of the presidency. So, in all, the order was lawful and constitutional. Therefore, the attorney general had an obligation to defend it, regardless of how they feel about the policy behind it. If they feel like they can’t do that, they should resign, which is what Dershowitz argued Yates should have done. She offered a political opinion, not a legal one in her letter. If anything, all that Yates did, besides make herself feel better, was to show how politicized the DOJ had become under the Obama presidency and how a major facelift is needed. Now, that his nomination is out of committee, all we need is a vote on the Senate floor.