White House spokesman Sean Spicer announced that acting Attorney General Sally Yates has been relieved of her duty after she sent a memo instructing Justice Department attorneys not to defend Donald J. Trump’s refugee and travel order.
Yates, an Obama appointee, was intending to serve until Trump’s nominee for attorney general Jeff Sessions is confirmed. She does not believe the substance of the order is lawful, according to the sources.
“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,” she said in a letter. “In addition, 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.”
“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.
Her order was to be enforced only until she leaves office.
Trump sent out a tweet not long after the decision by Yates was made public. He said “The Democrats are delaying my cabinet picks for purely political reasons. They have nothing going but to obstruct. Now have an Obama A.G.”
The White House sent a statement regarding the situation saying that, “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.”