President Donald Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates late Monday evening after the AG ordered the Justice Department lawyers to refuse to work on supporting the legal defense of Trump’s immigration and refugee suspension.
The ban in question involves immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia. These seven countries were targeted by the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 during the Obama presidency.
Sally Yates was appointed deputy attorney general in 2015 under the Obama administration, an issue White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer addressed moments after Yates was terminated.
“Ms. Yates is an Obama administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration,” read a White House statement.
The statement further blasts the acting AG, claiming, “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.”
Yates was immediately replaced by Dana Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, who is expected to serve as attorney general until Senator Jeff Sessions is officially brought on board after his pending confirmation. One of the first things Boente did upon assuming office was to rescind the order Yates gave to the Justice Department lawyers.
In the official White House press release, Dana said, “I am honored to serve President Trump in this role until Senator Sessions is confirmed. I will defend and enforce the laws of our country to ensure that our people and our nation are protected.”
The precipitating event for Donald Trump firing Sally was a letter in which Mic says Yates declared “at present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with [her] responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful. Consequently, 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 current administration has made it clear they will not tolerate dissent within the ranks. Numerous officials within the government from both parties have protested the immigration ban, with lawsuits being launched against the POTUS’ government in an effort to countermand the various executive orders Trump has signed.
Trump also hopped on Twitter to release his thoughts on the matter. In addition to targeting Sally Yates, Donald let loose on the Democratic Party, claiming they are blocking Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing merely for political purposes.
The termination of the AG raised eyebrows, with numerous sources in the media comparing this event with the infamous Richard Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre,” where that president’s AG and deputy AG resigned from their positions after Nixon ordered them to fire Archibald Cox, who had been appointed the special prosecutor for the Watergate Scandal. While there are some correlations, the comparison lacks true merit as Trump is not attempting to cover up evidence of illegal activities in this instance.
Other concerns have been raised by previous Department of Justice officials, claiming this is merely the first step in a major ideological overhaul within the department. Once Jeff Sessions is confirmed, many expect the DOJ to be purged and arranged to be significantly more supportive of the Trump administration than it is currently.
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