Acting U.S. Attorney General Fired By Trump For Refusing To Defend Executive OrderScreen Shot 2017-01-31 at 4.19.19 PM
President Donald Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night for “refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States,” the White House said in a statement.
According to the statement, Yates “betrayed the Department of Justice” by refusing to enforce Trump’s orders.
“Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration,” the statement read.
Dana Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, was sworn in on Monday night. A few hours later, Boente issued a statement saying that he would be rescinding Ms. Yates’ orders.
Yates was informed of her dismissal through a letter that she received at the Justice Department.
Boente will replace Yates until Congress acts to confirm Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama.
Yates’ decision would likely be short-lived as Sessions is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
“My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts,” Yates said in a letter. “In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”
“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.
President Trump’s executive order prevents citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days, suspends the admission of refugees for the next 120 days and suspends the Syrian refugee program indefinitely.
“It is time to get serious about protecting our country,” the White House statement read. “Calling for tougher vetting for individuals traveling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country.”
Yates’ decision overruled a finding by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which approved the executive order.
Trump tweeted shortly after the announcement, saying that Democrats were obstructing his cabinet choices.