Acting Attorney General Defies Trump– Orders DOJ not to defend Trump Executive Order–58gH.,b58–
Acting attorney general Sally Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, has ordered DOJ attorneys not to defend President Trump’s controversial executive order which temporarily bans those from seven countries, from entering the country. The countries were chosen as part of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, and Trump opted to temporarily halt immigration from those countries as his administration considers ways to take present vetting procedures to “extreme” levels.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Yates, in a letter, suggests the executive order may be unlawful:
In the Monday afternoon letter, Yates said the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel had reviewed the order to see if it was “lawful on its face.” But Yates said that review was limited and failed to address the implications of the travel ban.
“Importantly, it does not address whether any policy choice embodied in an executive order is wise or just,” she wrote. “…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.”
Ms. Yates letter hinted that she is aware she may not be at the Justice Department much longer.
Upon the departure of Obama-era Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Yates is the highest-ranking lawyer at DOJ confirmed by the Senate, who was appointed by President Obama.
Trump’s AG pick, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, is awaiting confirmation as attorney general by the U.S. Senate. While Trump has the power to fire Yates, the decision not to defend the order would likely stand until Sessions is confirmed, likely undermining Trump’s executive order as many legal challenges are already mounting.
Update 2: Yates has been relieved and replaced by Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
source–jim smith, sally yates, visa waiver program improvement and terrorist travel protection act of 2015, dana boente