President Trump fired acting Atty. Gen. Sally Yates on Monday, just hours after she announced that the department would not defend his controversial executive order banning refugees and travelers from certain countries.
AYates has ”betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States,” the White House said in a statement. “It is time to get serious about protecting our country.”
The move came after Yates sent a letter to Justice Department lawyers saying that she questioned the lawfulness of Trump’s executive order.
“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 wrote.
“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. “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.”
Yates was a holdover from the Obama administration. But because Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, has not been confirmed and no other senior Justice Department officials have been appointed, firing her was expected to cause significant problems within the department.
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