That didn’t take long. After former acting Attorney General Sally Yates instructed everyone in the Department of Justice that they were not to defend Donald Trump’s travel banning executive order, she was quickly removed from office and replaced by Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
.@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
The executive order, which has been panned by some on the right and pretty much everyone on the left, has been the main topic of discussion for everyone from Starbucks to Elon Musk. Yates’ attempt to stop the DoJ from defending it was essentially a resignation letter. Trump has accepted it.
Here’s her letter:
“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,” Ms. Yates wrote in a letter to Justice Department lawyers. “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.”
The decision is largely symbolic — Mr. Trump’s nominee to be attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, is likely to be confirmed soon — but it highlights the deep divide at the Justice Department and elsewhere in the government over Mr. Trump’s order.
Mr. Trump has the authority to fire Ms. Yates, but as the top Senate-confirmed official at the Justice Department, she is the only one authorized to sign foreign surveillance warrants, an essential function at the department.
Here’s the response from the White House:
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 of the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel. 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. Calling for tougher vetting for individuals travelling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country. Tonight, President Trump relieved Ms. Yates of her duties and subsequently names Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to serve as Acting Attorney General until Senator Jeff Sessions is finally confirmed by the Senate, where he is being wrongly held up by Democrat senators for strictly political reasons. ‘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,’ said Dana Boente, Acting Attorney General.
While not perfect, the executive order deserves the nation’s legal department’s attention. Those on the left will continue to object to every move that Trump makes. Just as every American has the right to legal representation, so too does the administration. This is a good move by the President even if it shouldn’t have been necessary.