In her 2015 confirmation hearing, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) demanded to know if Sally Yates would be confident enough to stand up to the president of the United States. At the time the president happened to be Barack Obama, but when given the opportunity, Yates kept her promise and was promptly fired by Donald Trump
“You have to watch out because people will be asking you to do things and you need to say no. You think the Attorney General has the responsibility to say no to the President if he asks for something that’s improper?” Sessions asked.
“A lot of people have defended the [Loretta] Lynch nomination, for example, by saying ‘well, he appoints somebody who’s going to execute his views, what’s wrong with that?'” Sessions asked, referring to Obama’s Attorney General nominee. “But if the views the President wants to execute are unlawful, should the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General say no?”
Yates explained to Sessions: “Senator, I believe the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General has an obligation to follow the law and the Constitution and to give their independent legal advice to the President.”
Yates was serving as the Acting Attorney General until President Donald Trump fired her after she told the Justice Department not to defend the anti-immigration executive order. Yates also noted in her statement that she believed the order barring Muslims from entering the U.S. was illegal.
In a statement from the White House, Yates was called “weak” twice in one sentence and chastised for being an Obama appointee. Her replacement was also an Obama hire.
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