President Trump relieved acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates Monday evening following her refusal to enforce an executive order temporarily restricting individuals to the United States from several Muslim-majority countries and aliens from Syria claiming refugee status.
In a Monday letter to Justice Department attorneys, Ms. Yates wrote: “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.”
In a statement explaining the president’s decision, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Yates had “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”
In the same statement, which described the moratorium on travel to the U.S. as “approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel,” Spicer continued:
“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.”
Spicer concluded his statement by blasting Senate Democrats for delaying the confirmation of President Trump’s nominee to lead the Justice Department, Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, for purely political reasons.
In Yates place, President Trump appointed Dana Boente, who was until recently the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Interviewed Monday, Boente said of the moratorium:
“I was enforcing it this afternoon. Our career department employees were defending the action in court, and I expect that’s what they’ll do tomorrow, appropriately and properly.”
In a statement released by the White House, the new acting attorney general said Mr. Trump’s moratorium is “both lawful on its face and properly drafted.”
[Washington Times] [Boston Globe] [Washington Post] [Photo courtesy Reuters via PBS]