It has been an eventful 24-hours for the Department of Justice, and today (January 31), promises to extend the trend. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Yesterday (January 30), acting attorney general Sally Yates issued a statement that made it clear she would not support the president’s executive order that bans travel for nationals of seven countries with predominantly-Muslim populations. “I am not convinced that the executive order is lawful,” she wrote. “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.”
Acting Attorney General tells Justice Dept. lawyers not to defend Trump’s immigration order, concerned it’s not legal. Here is her letter. pic.twitter.com/f6EX7XWCTO
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) January 30, 2017
2. President Donald Trump tweeted about the decision last night, then promptly fired Yates and replaced her with Dana Boente, a U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Virginia.
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
.@POTUS has named Dana Boente, US Attorney for the Eastern District of VA as Acting Attorney General. Sally Yates has been relieved.
— Sean Spicer (@PressSec) January 31, 2017
The White House then released a statement about Yates’ dismissal that says she “betrayed the Department of Justice.”
This is … unusual language to find in a White House statement about a public servant. I’ve never read anything like it. pic.twitter.com/x6ZHekzKSg
— Greg Greene (@ggreeneva) January 31, 2017
But many pointed out online that the attorney general’s duty is to the Constitution—not the DOJ or the president.
Yates and all AGs swear to defend the Constitution “against all enemies.” That includes POTUS if necessary pic.twitter.com/unbMkCNGpN
— Alice Dreger (@AliceDreger) January 31, 2017
Then a video clip surfaced of current attorney general nominee, Jeff Sessions, asking Yates during her own confirmation hearing if she would be willing to “say no to the president if he asked for something that’s improper.”
— T. R. Ramachandran (@yottapoint) January 31, 2017
3. Sessions is set to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee today at 9:30 a.m. for the vote on his nomination.
Sessions simply can’t be confirmed in this environment. At the minimum, he needs a whole new hearing to answer q’s about DOJ independence.
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) January 31, 2017
About 30 NAACP organizers and members were arrested during a sit-in at Session’s Mobile, Alabama, office yesterday. It was the group’s second protest at his office since his nomination was announced.
— NAACP (@NAACP) January 30, 2017
The organizers of the Women’s March on Washington are holding a rally outside the Senate this morning, imploring members to #StopSessions.
— Women’s March (@womensmarch) January 31, 2017
Watch the vote live below.