When Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s term ended on Jan. 20, 2017, her deputy, Sally Q. Yates ascended to the position of Acting Attorney General while the Trump administration sought confirmation of their choice. Over the weekend of the 28th, the executive agencies had difficulty in implementing the Jan. 27th order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The President and his surrogates took to the media to clarify the details of the order.
In response to the implementation of the order and these statements, Yates published a letter on Jan. 30th outlining the Department of Justice’s position on the Jan. 27th executive order. Specifically, Yates stated that the Department of Justice shall not defend the executive order under her watch. She was fired by the President later that night.
My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts. In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right. 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. Consequently, for as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.
There are two types of agencies within the executive branch: executive (such as all Departments) and independent (such as the SEC, FCC, and FTC). Independent agencies are intended to be removed from the effect of politics and to further this goal, the heads of these agencies have fixed tenure and are only removable “for cause.” Unlike independent agencies, executive agencies are accountable to the political process and their heads are removable at will by the President. Continue reading “Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates”