Trump WH Fires Sally Yates, Who 'Betrayed' DOJ 'By Refusing to Enforce a Legal Order'

By Susan Jones | January 31, 2017 | 6:55am EST
Theresa Boul was one of several people standing outside Trump Tower to support Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Election Day in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

( – “Monday night massacre!,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) exclaimed on the Senate floor late Monday night, as he blasted President Trump for firing Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, an Obama appointee, who refused to defend Trump’s executive order on immigration.

Schumer called Yates “a profile in courage.”  And he blasted President Donald Trump: “You just can’t sit down, Twitter something out, then think, ok, let’s enact it,” Schumer complained.

By Tuesday morning, Joe Scarborough, the liberal host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” was blasting Trump for using the word “betrayal” in connection with Yates. “It’s frightening! That’s what an autocrat would use,” Scarborough said. “Take that to Venezuela, okay? We don’t really want to use that sort of language here.”

The word “betrayal” appeared in a White House statement issued Monday night, which reads as follows:

The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.

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.

Tonight, President Trump relieved Ms. Yates of her duties and subsequently named Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to serve as Acting Attorney General until Senator Jeff Sessions is finally confirmed by the Senate, where he is being wrongly held up by Democrat senators for strictly political reasons.

Boente, the new acting attorney general, also issued a statement, saying in part:

At approximately 9:00 p.m., I was asked by the President to serve in the capacity of Acting Attorney General.…

Based upon the Office of Legal Counsel’s analysis, which found the Executive Order both lawful on its face and properly drafted, I hereby rescind former Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates January 30, 2017, guidance and direct the men and women of the Department of Justice to do our sworn duty and to defend the lawful orders of our President.

At the same time all this was happening, Trump adviser Stephen Miller, who helped draft the executive order on immigration, appeared on Fox News, telling Tucker Carlson that Yates had “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.” Miller also said the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel had cleared and approved the executive order as “fully legal.”

Miller said Yates has been replaced by “somebody who will enforce the laws of the United States.”

“What’s unprecedented here is that the Justice Department would refuse to defend a lawful federal order for political reasons. That is dangerous to our constitutional system,” Miller said.

He noted that the Justice Department is supposed to defend taxpayers in lawsuits brought against the federal government as it carries out its legal obligations.

Miller also noted that during the Obama administration, President Obama issued order after order that violated and “essentially repealed” immigration law.

“And throughout all of that, the Obama Justice Department stood by and supported those unlawful actions," Miller said. "President Trump comes in and directs the agencies to follow the law as written and protect the country, and the acting attorney general, an Obama appointee, says, I’m not going to do it.”

Miller said a “core power” of the federal government is its “right to deny entry to any alien at any time, if it believes that to be in the national security interests of the United States.”

(For the record, “MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough is on a campaign to get Stephen Miller fired, calling him a “little Napoleon” who is running wild in the West Wing.)

Yates, in refusing to defend Trump’s executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, wrote that she wasn’t convinced Trump’s order was lawful:

My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts. In addition, 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.

Consequently, 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.

And finally – finally for the moment, anyway -- Trump tweeted early Tuesday morning: “When will the Democrats give us our Attorney General and rest of Cabinet! They should be ashamed of themselves! No wonder D.C. doesn't work!”

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