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Trump Fires Acting Attorney General For Refusing To Support Muslim Ban

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President Donald Trump fired his acting attorney general on Monday [January 30, 2017] night, removing her as the nation’s top law enforcement officer after she defiantly refused to defend his executive order closing the nation’s borders to refugees and people from predominantly Muslim countries.

In an escalating crisis for his 10-day-old administration, the president declared in a statement that Sally Q. Yates, who had served as deputy attorney general under President Barack Obama, had betrayed the administration by announcing that Justice Department lawyers would not defend Mr. Trump’s order against legal challenges.

The president replaced Ms. Yates with Dana J. Boente, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, saying that he would serve as attorney general until Congress acts to confirm Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. In his first act in his new role, Mr. Boente announced that he was rescinding Ms. Yates’s order.

“The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States,” read a statement by the Trump administration.

“Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration. It is time to get serious about protecting our country.

“Calling for tougher vetting for individuals travelling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country.

“Tonight President Trump relieved Ms. Yates of her duties and subsequently named Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to serve as Acting Attorney General until Senator Jeff Sessions is finally confirmed by the Senate, where he is being wrongly held up by Democrat senators for strictly political reasons.”

In a statement of their own, the Democratic National Committee condemned Trump’s firing of Yates.

“Donald Trump can try to silence heroic patriots like Sally Yates who dare to speak truth to power about his illegal anti-Muslim ban that emboldens terrorists around the globe,” the DNC said in a Monday night statement.

“But he cannot silence the growing voices of an American people now wide awake to his tyrannical presidency.”

Monday’s events have transformed the confirmation of Mr. Sessions into a referendum on Mr. Trump’s immigration order. Action in the Senate could come as early as Tuesday.

Ms. Yates’s order was a remarkable rebuke by a government official to a sitting president, and it recalled the so-called Saturday Night Massacre in 1973, when President Richard M. Nixon fired his attorney general and deputy attorney general for refusing to dismiss the special prosecutor in the Watergate case.

Mr. Boente was sworn in at 9 p.m., according to White House officials, who did not provide details about who performed the ceremony. In a statement, Mr. Boente pledged to “defend and enforce the laws of our country.”

At 9:15 p.m., Ms. Yates received a hand-delivered letter at the Justice Department that informed her that she was fired. Signed by John DeStefano, one of Mr. Trump’s White House aides, the letter informed Ms. Yates that “the president has removed you from the office of Deputy Attorney General of the United States.”

Two minutes later, the White House officials lashed out at Ms. Yates in a statement issued by Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary.

“Ms. Yates is an Obama administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration,” the statement said.

The firing of Ms. Yates came at the end of a turbulent three days that began on Friday with Mr. Trump’s signing of his executive order. The action stranded travelers around the world, led to protests around the country and created alarm inside the bureaucracy.

Hattip to The New York Times, Daily Beast

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