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Montevideo, November 15th 2018 - 00:22 UTC

Trump sacks attorney general for “betraying” and questioning legality of immigration ban

Tuesday, January 31st 2017 - 11:45 UTC
Full article 10 comments
The White House said Ms Yates had “betrayed” the department. Dana Boente, US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, replaces her as acting AG The White House said Ms Yates had “betrayed” the department. Dana Boente, US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, replaces her as acting AG

President Donald Trump has fired the acting US attorney general, after she questioned the legality of his immigration ban. Sally Yates, who had been appointed under Barack Obama, earlier ordered justice department lawyers not to enforce the president's executive order.

 In a statement, the White House said Ms Yates had “betrayed” the department. Dana Boente, US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, replaces her as acting attorney general.

Mr Trump's order temporarily banned nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, and sparked street protests in the US and abroad.

In a letter, Ms Yates had said she was “not convinced” that the president's order was lawful. “As long as I am the acting attorney general, the department of justice will not present arguments in defence of the Executive Order,” she said.

But the White House said she had “betrayed the department of justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States”.

“President Trump relieved Ms Yates of her duties,” a statement from the press secretary said.

Her replacement, Mr. Boente, was also appointed by Barack Obama, in 2015. He was confirmed by the US Senate - making him eligible for appointment while Mr. Trump waits for his own nominee to be approved.

Senator Jeff Sessions is awaiting a confirmation hearing for the role later this week.

Meanwhile, hundreds of diplomats and foreign servants have been drafting a “dissent cable” to formally criticise the president's executive order.

A draft version of the cable said that immigration restrictions will not make the US safer, are un-American and will send the wrong message to the Muslim world. The ban bars citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

The White House has consistently defended Trump's executive order despite the controversy, with press secretary Sean Spicer saying diplomats should “get with the program”.

In addition, former President Barack Obama has apparently broken with the convention of former presidents avoiding comment on their successors. Commenting on the protests about the immigration order, President Obama said he was “heartened”.

“Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake,” he said in a statement, which did not mention president Trump by name.

Categories: Politics, United States.

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  • Marti Llazo

    US media: '...Although Ms. Yates stated she had qualms about the legality of the order, she did not in fact argue that the EO was illegal and admitted that the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel had agreed that the order was “lawful on its face and properly drafted.” ........ .....[ nor is it] the attorney general’s responsibility to stand in the way of an executive action that has been judged legal, even if flawed policy. An attorney general can certainly give advice about the wisdom of any particular order, and even suggest the legal difficulties it might give rise to, but taking on the role of independent “censor” is not part of our legal or constitutional heritage... '

    If that is accurate, it would seem that the acting attorney-general was attempting to countermand the authority in question, not because the president's order was illegal, but because she personally didn't like it, and directed the US Justice Department to act in a manner that was contrary to the lawful direction of the president. General MacArthur got canned for much less than that. If you have personal qualms about carrying out a lawful directive, you have the option of abandoning the office and seeking opportunities elsewhere.

    Jan 31st, 2017 - 08:03 pm +5
  • Marti Llazo

    “ Not long” ? Who is going to impeach Trump, Elaine? His own party, that controls both houses of their congress? A House majority and a Senate supermajority? What is the probability of that any time soon? Those majorities were elected in part to achieve many of the same ends as their president.

    Jan 31st, 2017 - 02:55 pm +4
  • Bisley

    The US Attorney General is a political appointee who serves at the pleasure of the president, and is there to implement the president's policy regarding law enforcement. Yates was an Obama political appointee, filling the gap until Trump's appointee is confirmed by the Senate. She is opposed to Trump's policy and intentionally attempted to undermine and delegitimize what he was doing for political reasons. He was absolutely right in firing her -- his only mistake was in retaining her, even temporarily.

    Jan 31st, 2017 - 06:42 pm +4
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