Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was fired Monday after refusing to back President Donald Trump’s executive order to block refugees from certain nations for 90 days.
Yates instructed Justice Department attorneys not to defend the order in court, saying that the controversial policy is not consistent with the department’s “obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.” She was fired just a few hours later.
Trump signed the order last Wednesday as part of a set of executive orders on immigration. The new policy blocks all refugees for four months and bans those from Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, and Libya for 90 days.
The controversial order, which also suspends Obama’s Syrian refugee resettlement program, sparked nationwide protests (backed by Obama of course). Congressional Democrats voiced their opinion by staging a demonstration on the steps of the Supreme Court building, and over 20 Republicans have refused to support it.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), who aggressively opposes the ban, praised Yates for standing up to the White House: “The Attorney General should be loyal and pledge fidelity to the law, not the White House. The fact that this administration doesn’t understand that is chilling.”
The White House defended Trump’s policy and labeled Yates’ behavior as betrayal. “Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration. It is time to get serious about protecting our country,” reads a statement issued by the White House.
The ban has stirred up serious dissent within the Trump Administration, and at least three top national security officials say they were not aware of any policy details until Trump signed the order.
“I think that they should either get with the program or they can go,” argues White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
In the meantime, Trump has selected Dana Boente to act as AG until Jeff Sessions (R-AL) receives Senate approval.
Boente, appointed two years ago by Obama as US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, told The Washington Post that he would defend Trump’s executive order in court. “Our career department employees were defending the order in court, and that’s what I expect they will do tomorrow, appropriately and properly,” he said.
Trump’s travel ban is already facing numerous legal challenges, and the decision to fire Yates has transformed the confirmation vote on Jeff Sessions into a referendum on Trump’s immigration policy.
Sessions is expected to support the ban.
Editor’s note: She should have resigned with the rest of the political appointees. She had no reason to still be in place except as a ‘sleeper’ to sabotage the president’s policies.