Acting Attorney General Sally Yates defies Trump, instructs Justice Department lawyers not to defend Trump’s executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.
On Monday, Yates wrote a letter to Justice Department lawyers ordering them not to defend President Trump’s executive order on immigration.
The following is an excerpt from that letter via The New York Times:
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.
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.
CNN reports that Yates, an Obama appointee, does not believe the substance of the order is lawful.Yates is serving as Acting Attorney General until Trump’s attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions can be confirmed. As president, Trump could fire Yates, but that would create additional problems the new president may not be willing to deal with. The New York Times reports:
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.
Bottom line: Yates is a patriot and a hero. While her action may be largely symbolic, that symbolism serves as notice that many Americans will resist when Trump tries to defecate on the U.S. Constitution.