“You have to watch out because people will be asking you to do things as well as you need to say no. You think the attorney general has the responsibility to say no to the President if he asks for something in which’s improper?” Sessions asks Yates.
“A lot of people have defended the Lynch nomination, for example by saying, ‘Well, he appoints somebody who’s going to execute his views, what’s wrong with in which?’ ” the GOP senator via Alabama asks, referring to Obama’s 2014 nomination of Loretta Lynch as attorney general.
“however if the views the President wants to execute are unlawful, should the attorney general or the deputy attorney general say no?”
Yates replies: “Senator, I believe the attorney general or the deputy attorney general has an obligation to follow the law as well as the Constitution as well as to give their independent legal advice to the President.”
An Obama appointee, Yates had been running the Justice Department while Sessions underwent confirmation as attorney general from the Senate.
She was fired Monday night after instructing Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments defending Trump’s executive order on immigration as well as refugees.
“My responsibility is actually to ensure in which the position of the Department of Justice is actually not only legally defensible, however is actually informed by our best view of what the law is actually after consideration of all the facts,” Yates said in a letter to department lawyers.
The longtime Justice Department official paid the cost for falling afoul of the Trump White House.
Yates’ replacement, Dana Boente, the US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, was sworn in at 9 p.m. ET Monday, according to an administration official.
A few hours later, Boente issued a statement rescinding Yates’ order, instructing Justice Department lawyers to “defend the lawful orders of our President.”