President Donald Trump on Monday fired Sally Q. Yates, his acting attorney general hours after she wrote a letter to lawyers in the U.S. Justice Department refusing to defend his executive order that banned the entry of immigrants from seven Muslim majority countries. In a strongly worded statement issued by the President, he declared that Sally Yates had “betrayed” the Department of Justice, The New York Times reports.
“The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.”
The statement further accused Yates of being “an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.” Sally Yates has been replaced by Dana Boente, currently, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to serve as Acting Attorney General until Senator Jeff Sessions takes over later.
We have reproduced the rest of the statement issued by President Trump below;
“It is time to get serious about protecting our country. Calling for tougher vetting for individuals traveling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country. Tonight, President Trump relieved Ms. Yates of her duties and subsequently named Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to serve as Acting Attorney General until Senator Jeff Sessions is finally confirmed by the Senate, where he is being wrongly held up by Democrat senators for strictly political reasons.”
Earlier, Ms. Yates’s in a letter to Justice Department lawyers said the following.
“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. For as long as I am the acting attorney general, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the executive order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.”
The firing of Sally Yates marks the end of a tumultuous day for the Trump administration which saw an outpouring of dissent over the administration’s decision to ban the entry of refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. On the same day, White House press secretary Sean Spicer also issued a warning to State Department officials after it was revealed that some officials had circulated a “dissent memo” on the immigration executive order. Spicer argued that the officials who circulated the dissent memo should leave their jobs if they did not agree with Mr. Trump’s agenda.
“These career bureaucrats have a problem with it? They should either get with the program, or they can go.”
Before the statement was issued, President Trump took to Twitter to respond to the letter from Sally Yates. This is what he wrote.
The Democrats are delaying my cabinet picks for purely political reasons. They have nothing going but to obstruct. Now have an Obama A.G.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 31, 2017
Ms. Yates’ letter was also marked with criticism by Stephen Miller, one of President Trump’s top policy advisers. He said the following.
“It’s sad that our politics have become so politicized that you have people refusing to enforce our laws.”
After the news of the firing was announced, people took to social media to voice their opinions on the decision. While some were distressed over the firing, others were clearly happy.
Meanwhile, a top Senate official has confirmed that President Trump has the authority to fire Ms. Yates. The last time something similar happened was at the time of what is now remembered as the “Saturday Night Massacre” in 1973. This was when then President Richard M. Nixon fired his attorney general and deputy attorney general after they refused to dismiss the special prosecutor in the Watergate case.
[Featured Image by Carolyn Kaster/AP Images]