Trump Just Fired the Acting Attorney General for Refusing to Defend His “Muslim Ban”

Sally Yates, an Obama appointee, was serving in the role while the Senate considers Jeff Sessions’ nomination.

Update 9:25pm ET January 30, 2017: Trump just fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates.

Here’s the statement from the White House:



A friend on Twitter points out that ironically the last Acting Attorney General to heroically stand up for the Constitution was…James Comey, without whom Donald Trump would not have won the White House.

Original post below.


The acting Attorney General Sally Yates has told Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments defending President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees, according to sources familiar with the order.

Yates is an Obama appointee who is just serving in the role until Jeff Sessions (or whoever) is confirmed by the Senate. But this still sends a pretty clear message.

The New York Times got a copy of the letter she sent to DOJ lawyers.

“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,” Ms. Yates wrote in a letter to Justice Department lawyers. “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.”


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  • Ben Dreyfuss is Mother Jones' editorial director for growth and strategy. He's done some other stuff, too. You can email him at But you don't have to. But you can. But you really don't have to.