Yesterday, U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates announced her decision not to defend President Donald Trump’s travel and immigration restriction on seven Muslim countries. To most, this has become known as the “Muslim ban.”
In a letter to the Justice Department yesterday, Yates explains, “At present I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with [my] responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.”
Yates’s primary concern lies in the validity of an action that clearly discriminates against individuals based on religion, which is in opposition to our nation’s First Amendment. As such, she believes the ban is illegal.
But just hours after the letter was issued, Trump fired Yates for “betraying” the Department of Justice, according to a White House statement, and denounced her as “an Obama administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.” That phrasing sounds very Trump-esque.
.@POTUS has named Dana Boente, US Attorney for the Eastern District of VA as Acting Attorney General. Sally Yates has been relieved.— Sean Spicer (@PressSec) January 31, 2017
Last night, a telling clip began making the rounds online. The video is from Yates’s 2015 confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, when she was nominated to serve as deputy attorney general.
As tradition serves, senators grilled Yates about how she would behave when the president of the United States must make crucial legal and ethical choices. For dramatic effect, the question came from none other than Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, who happens to be President Trump’s present nominee for Attorney General, and is up for a confirmation vote today.
“Do you think the attorney general has a responsibility to say ‘no’ to the president if he asks for something that’s improper?” Sessions asked, adding, “If the views he wants to execute are unlawful, should the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General say no?” Yates responds, “Senator, I feel the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General has an obligation to follow the law and the Constitution, and give their independent legal advice to the president.”
This clip foreshadowed yesterday’s events, where Yates put her money where her mouth is and ultimately got fired for sticking to her guns. Evidently, like facts, keeping one’s word doesn’t carry much weight with our newly appointed president.
Here is the video: