The Irony: Trump Attorney General Pick Once Grilled Fired AG Sally Yates on Defying Unlawful Presidential Orders
Yesterday, acting Attorney General Sally Yates stood up against Donald Trump’s travel ban/immigration ban/Muslim ban, and she was perhaps too predictably fired by Trump for doing so. In the meantime, while Trump eagerly awaits having Jeff Sessions, his AG pick, sworn in, he’s replaced Yates with another temporary assignment, but this video of Sessions questioning Yates at her 2015 confirmation hearing is all we can think about right now.
In it, Sessions is clearly badgering Yates from the standpoint that President Obama’s attorney general, Loretta Lynch, would do anything the Obama administration approved, whether or not she believed it was right. He wanted to know if Yates would behave similarly. Tellingly, Yates said that her duty was to the Constitution, not to the president.
Now, Trump is trying to brow-beat Democrats in congress into forcing Sessions through his confirmation process by saying they’re only holding him up for political reasons. That’s far from true, as there’s legitimate concern going around as to how Sessions’ personal beliefs would influence his actions as attorney general. However, it certainly seems that Donald Trump believes he has an ally in Sessions and needs him in place to help push his own agenda through.
The attorney general does serve at the will of the president, and Trump was fully within his rights to remove Yates, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to go firing anyone who disagrees—especially since the confirmation vote on Sessions is this morning, making the firing seem more symbolic than anything else. The memo from the Trump administration on Yates’ firing was as inflammatory as you’d expect and asserted that she had “betrayed” the Department of Justice. For her part, Yates had put out a statement on why she told the Department of Justice not to legally defend Trump’s order, which seemed to allude to the fact that, after the order went out, statements from those in the Trump team (and Trump himself) made it quite clear that the order was intended as a Muslim ban, no matter its language.
(image via screengrab)
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