Donald Trump on Monday fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates over her refusal to enforce Trump’s executive order restricting travel from several predominantly Muslim countries.
The move comes mere hours after it was reported that Yates told Justice Department lawyers not to defend Trump’s order, which the president signed on Friday to the chagrin of citizens and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
Yates was named deputy attorney general by former President Barack Obama and asked by the Trump administration to remain as acting head of the Justice Department by Trump pending Senate confirmation of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).
“@POTUS has named Dana Boente, US Attorney for the Eastern District of VA as Acting Attorney General,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer wrote Monday night. “Sally Yates has been relieved.”
In a statement, the White House said Yates “betrayed” the Trump administration with her decision.
“Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration,” the White House said.
The move prompted observers to rail against the “fascist” undertones of Trump’s decision, with many using the hashtag #MondayNightMassacre to describe the events. The hashtag—which was trending on Twitter Monday night—is a clear allusion to Richard Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre, wherein Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resigned in protest after the former president demanded they fire a special prosecutor appointed to investigate the Watergate scandal.
Read some of the best reactions below:
Someone updated Sally Yates’ Wikipedia page pic.twitter.com/BkPynP3h3w
— Tim Perone (@timperone) January 31, 2017
AG upholds the law. Dictator wanna be says you don’t agree with me. You’re fired.
— Carp (@robcarpenter81) January 31, 2017
— Evan Greer (@evan_greer) January 31, 2017
Oh my! #Trump fires acting Attorney General! This is what Nixon did when his AG wouldn’t fire special prosecutor. And that didn’t end well.
— James Asher (@jimasher) January 31, 2017
Acting AG (now former) Sally Yates is a lawyer of principle and courage. She should be celebrated for upholding the ideal that a lawyer 1/2
— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) January 31, 2017
— Jacob Soboroff (@jacobsoboroff) January 31, 2017
Fun fact: Whether an acting AG is “very weak on borders” does not actually affect whether an order is legal or not
— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) January 31, 2017
I was just thinking, “What does this administration need?” And then the answer came through my tv screen: “MORE WHITE MEN.”
Acting AG Yates https://t.co/oT2NvnrPnH
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) January 31, 2017
Holy crap. Trump fired AG Sally Yates for refusing his unlawful order. Says she “betrayed” the Dept. of Justice.
Sounds like facism. https://t.co/Yqs470bVpX
— Phil Plait (@BadAstronomer) January 31, 2017
Unsurprisingly, w a sexual predator in the WH, the folks standing up for constitutional govt in US are women. #WomensMarch and Sally Yates.
— Jasmin Mujanović (@JasminMuj) January 31, 2017
Sally Yates, I salute you. One for the history books.
— Jeb Brovsky (@JebBrovsky) January 31, 2017
Donald Trump just fired Sally Yates. This is a white nationalist government coup happening right before our eyes
— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) January 31, 2017
Pres. Trump had an “Apprentice” flashback tonight. Told Sally Yates “You’re Fired”. She put her stuff in a box, they drove her off in Limo.
— Dr.Darrell Scott (@PastorDScott) January 31, 2017
Monday Night Massacre:
Trump fires Sally Yates, Acting AG who refused to defend his indefensible #MuslimBan. History will remember her well.
— EJ Dionne (@EJDionne) January 31, 2017
Sally Yates rn pic.twitter.com/xTofgGXWCY
— Brandi (@BrandiInIndy) January 31, 2017