President Donald Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Monday, January 30, after she refused to support the President’s executive order placing a 90-day ban on the entry of individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries. “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 wrote in a letter to Justice Department lawyers.
Yates, who had served as former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s Deputy Attorney General had agreed to stay on as acting Attorney General until President Trump’s nominee for Attorney General Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions was sworn into office.
Yates was fired, because she failed to live up to her responsibility to support the President and the American people. Interestingly enough, she had no issue with the list of the seven temporarily banned countries which included Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen when President Barack Obama initially created it back in December of 2015.
That being said, even if Yates disagreed with President Trump’s executive order, she had the option of tendering her resignation. However, instead she publicly and openly defied the President, creating a scenario where he was essentially forced to relieve her of her duties.
Some have tried to draw a parallel between President Trump’s firing of Yates and President Richard Nixon’s ‘Saturday Night Massacre,’ which took place on October 20, 1973, where President Nixon fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox and accepted the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus.
The difference is that President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Yates because she failed to comply with a lawful executive order, while President Nixon fired his attorney general and deputy attorney general because they refused to fire Cox and interfere with the Watergate break in investigation. Trump is upholding the law while Nixon was endeavoring to obstruct it.
Dana J. Boente, who was nominated by President Obama as the 60th U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia in 2015, will serve as the Acting Attorney General until Senator Sessions assumes the position. Boente was sworn in as Attorney General at 9:00 pm ET on January 30th, fifteen minutes before Yates received a hand-delivered letter that “the president has removed you from the office of Deputy Attorney General of the United States.”
Boente, 62, who is a thirty-year Department of Justice veteran, received a lot of visibility for his prosecution of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell in a public corruption scandal which resulted in a two-year prison sentence for McDonnell, which was later overturned by the Supreme Court.
Interestingly enough Boente was well liked by former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who described him as “that reliable middle child…the one you could always count on to be there for you.”
Suffice it to say, the Sally Yates firing probably would not have happened if the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had not been so persistent in delaying the confirmation process for Sessions.
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