Update #3: Unsurprisingly Democrats are up in arms over the firing of 'their' Acting Attorney General, seemingly making her out to be some freedom-fighting martyr for their cause of selective and political law enforcement... (as The Hill reports)
The Democratic National Committee released a statement late Monday responding to ”tyrannical” President Trump’s decision to fire Acting Attorney General Sally Yates. Yates was fired shortly after she announced that Justice Department not to defend Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration under her watch.
"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. But he cannot silence the growing voices of an American people now wide awake to his tyrannical presidency,” the DNC statement read.
* * *
Update #2: That "mutiny" did not last long. At 9:16pm on Monday, President Trump announced the firing of the acting attorney general, Sally Yates, who defied him just three hours earlier on his migrant-travel ban urging the DOJ not to follow his executive order, saying she "has betrayed the Department of Justice."
Acting AG Yates has been relieved of duty...
Statement on the Appointment of Dana Boente as Acting Attorney General
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. This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.
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.
"I am honored to serve President Trump in this role until Senator Sessions is confirmed. I will defend and enforce the laws of our country to ensure that our people and our nation are protected," said Dana Boente, Acting Attorney General.
* * *
Update #1: President Trump responds...
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
* * *
As we detailed earlier, in what those with a flair for the dramatic might be allowed to call "mutiny", Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who is the current acting Attorney General, has given orders to Justice Department lawyers not to defend Trump's executive order.
Her just released statement is below:
On January 27, 2017, the President signed an Executive Order regarding immigrants and refugees from certain Muslim-majority countries. The order has now been challenged in a number of jurisdictions. As the Acting Attorney General, it is my ultimate responsibility to determine the position of the Department of Justice in these actions.
My role is different from that of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), which, through administrations of both parties, has reviewed Executive Orders for form and legality before they are issued. OLC's review is limited to the narrow question of whether, in OLC's view, a proposed Executive Order is lawful on its face and properly drafted. Its review does not take account of statements made by an administration or it surrogates close in time to the issuance of an Executive Order that may bear on the order's purpose. And importantly, it does not address whether any policy choice embodied in an Executive Order is wise or just.
Similarly, in litigation, DOJ Civil Division lawyers are charged with advancing reasonable legal arguments that can be made supporting an Executive Order. But my role as leader of this institution is different and broader. 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.
While it is clear that Yates is making a purely political statement, her glaring insubordination to the Trump administration will take on a largely symbolic hue, and may be imitated by various other government agencies which still have interim or permanent democratic leadership, as is the case with every instance of political "mutiny."
As The New York Times notes, Mr. Trump has the authority to fire Ms. Yates, but as the top Senate-confirmed official at the Justice Department, she is the only one authorized to sign foreign surveillance warrants, an essential function at the department.
That said, Donald Trump's response, once he realizes he may have a mini mutiny on his hands, should be interesting.
Trump aide (and reported architect of Trump's immigration executive order) Stephen Miller explains "this is further demonstration of how politicized our legal system has become..."
And here is the authority that the president has to make his decision.
Even Alan Dershowtiz believes AG Yates "has made a serious mistake"...