Trump fires Attorney General for refusing to defend ban
US President Donald Trump on Monday evening fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she instructed the Department of Justice not to make legal arguments defending the executive order banning immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The White House in a statement accused Yates of having “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States”.
The statement went on to described Yates, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, as “weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration”.
“It is time to get serious about protecting our country. Calling for tougher vetting for individuals travelling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country,” the White House said in the statement.
It added that Trump replaced Yates with Dana Boente, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
The dramatic and unprecedented move came only hours after Yates sent a letter to DOJ lawyers saying she is not convinced the executive order signed by Trump on Friday is lawful.
“I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right,” read Yates’ letter.
“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,” Yates wrote.
Activists and campaigners opposed to Trump’s executive order took to social media to condemn the firing of Yates and to express their gratitude to her through the hash tag #ThankYouSally.