Loretta Lynch praises Sally Yates for 'courageous leadership'

Loretta Lynch praises Sally Yates for 'courageous leadership'
© Moriah Ratner

Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Tuesday praised former acting Attorney General Sally Yates for her "courageous leadership."

"With her decision not to defend the executive order regarding immigration, Sally Yates displayed the fierce intellect, unshakeable integrity, and deep commitment to the rule of law that have characterized her 27 years of distinguished service to the Department of Justice under both Democratic and Republican administrations," Lynch said in a statement.

"Her courageous leadership embodies the highest traditions of the Department of Justice, whose first duty is always to the American people, and to the Constitution that protects our rights and safeguards our liberties."

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President Trump on Monday night fired Yates just hours after she ordered that the Justice Department not defend the president's controversial executive order on immigration.

The order bars people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia from entering the country for 90 days; suspends the country's refugee resettlement program for 120 days; and indefinitely suspends resettlement of refugees from Syria.

The White House on Monday issued a statement saying Yates, who was appointed by former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaIt's Joe Biden's 2020 presidential nomination to lose Assange hit with 17 new charges, including Espionage Act violations Progressive commentator says Obama was delusional thinking he could work with Republicans MORE, had "betrayed the U.S. government."

In the statement, the statement said Yates was "weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration."

"It is time to get serious about protecting our country," the statement said.

Trump selected Dana Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to replace Yates until his attorney general nominee, Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsFive takeaways from Barr's new powers in 'spying' probe Amash: Some of Trump's actions 'were inherently corrupt' 'Persuadable' voters are key to the 2020 election — and the non-screaming news industry MORE (R-Ala.), is confirmed by the Senate.

Obama nominated Yates for deputy attorney general in December 2014. She was confirmed by the Senate in May 2015, making her the Justice Department's No. 2 under Lynch.