Saying she is not sure Trump’s executive order banning entry to the U.S. by certain immigrants is legal, acting Attorney General Sally Yates sent a letter Monday to the Department of Justice, instructing them not to defend the order in court.
From the Hill:
“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,” she said in the letter.
“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.”
Just in: The acting Attorney General: "nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful." pic.twitter.com/ofvIgbk7qW
— Michael Del Moro (@MikeDelMoro) January 30, 2017
A federal judge out of New York granted an injunction against certain parts of the order, after things went sideways at airports around the country on Saturday.
The Trump administration is expected to fight that decision in court.
The move by Yates could very well be for a partisan show. She’s a holdover from the Obama administration, and the past eight years has shown just how politicized the Justice Department has become, according to Stephen Miller, senior adviser to the president.
— Seeno Merobshoev (@seenom) January 30, 2017
She may have only days to stall.
Trump’s pick for attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, could soon be confirmed. When that happens, he’s not likely to go against his boss in his first days on the job.
There’s also the chance of Trump simply replacing Yates with someone else in the department, who would be more willing to defend the order.
At most, this is a hollow gesture, but it likely foreshadows the partisan battles that await President Trump in the future.