By Miriam Raftery
January 31, 2017 (Washington D.C.) – President Donald Trump has fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she refused to defend his executive order banning entry into the U.S. for refugees worldwide and citizens of 11 Muslim nations. Yates said she was not convinced the order was lawful and that as head of the Justice Dept., her duty is to assure that the department’s position is “legally defensible” and “consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”
The Washington Post has dubbed Trump’s actions a “Monday night massacre” reminiscent of the “Saturday night massacre” during the Watergate scandal, when President Richard Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox over his investigation of Watergate and accepted resignations of his Attorney General and Deputy Attorney for their refusal to follow Nixon orders they believed were illegal.
A White House press release said Yates “betrayed the Department of Justice.” Trump promptly replaced Yates with Dana Boente, a U.S. Attorney from Virginia who has said he will enforce the order temporarily. Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, awaits Senate confirmation and has been grilled by Senators concerned about whether he will make decisions independent of the president if ordered to violate the law, as well as his views on civil rights and other key laws he would be in charge of enforcing.
Trump’s executive order caused chaos at airports worldwide and led to detention of even legal U.S. residents with green cards and people who held dual citizens in countries friendly to the U.S. Multiple lawsuits have been filed challenging the suit and several courts have already barred enforcement of portions of the order.
Trump signed the order without ever having it reviewed by the Justice Department, the State Department, or other key agencies.
The President also replaced Daniel Ragsdale at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, appointed pointed Thomas D. Homan as the new acting director despite the fact that Ragsdale had been honored for his work at the agency including deportation of thousands of undocumented immigrations during the Obama administration.