Acting Attorney General Sally Yates ordered the Justice Department not to defend President Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees in court.
Yates, a veteran of the department who was appointed by former President Obama, sent a letter Monday to officials in the department laying out her orders, the New York Times first reported. Shortly after, she was removed from the post by Trump.
"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."
The Democrats are delaying my cabinet picks for purely political reasons. They have nothing going but to obstruct. Now have an Obama A.G.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 31, 2017
Senior Adviser to the President Stephen Miller said on MSNBC that Yates' action is a "demonstration of how politicized process has become."
The acting attorney general will be replaced within days, assuming President Trump's nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsHouse panel refers Clinton server company for prosecution Sessions to keep up fight on sanctuary cities despite legal setback Suspended Alabama judge running for Senate MORE (R-Ala.), is confirmed. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote Tuesday morning on whether to recommend he be confirmed by the full Senate.
“Sally Yates is a person of integrity and I think she looked at the law regardless of her view,” he said, adding that the policy and the reaction are “a very bad omen for this presidency.”
“This is a constitutional crisis, it hurts the United States abroad, “ he added.
The executive order Trump signed on Friday bars Syrian refugees indefinitely and denies entry for 90 days for all individuals from Syria and six other predominantly Muslim countries: Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen.
A federal judge in New York on Saturday granted a request from the American Civil Liberties Union, filed on behalf of two Iraqi men who were detained at John F. Kennedy Airport, to temporarily block the order.
Yates' clash with the White House is reminiscent of the time Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus bucked President Richard Nixon’s order to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the Watergate scandal.
Nixon instead fired Cox himself and Ruckelhaus, and accepted Richardson's resignation on Oct. 20, 1973, in what became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.”
Just in: The acting Attorney General: "nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful." pic.twitter.com/ofvIgbk7qW— Michael Del Moro (@MikeDelMoro) January 30, 2017
Updated 9:40 p.m.