Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch praised now-fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates for her “unshakable integrity” in refusing to defend President Donald Trump’s executive order putting a pause on travel from terror-ridden countries.
In a statement reported by ABC News, Lynch said Tuesday that Yates’ decision not to defend Trump’s executive order was a sign of “courageous leadership.”
“With her decision not to defend the executive order regarding immigration, Sally Yates displayed the fierce intellect, unshakable integrity and deep commitment to the rule of law that have characterized her 27 years of distinguished service to the Department of Justice under both Democratic and Republican administrations,” Lynch said.
“Her courageous leadership embodies the highest traditions of the Department of Justice, whose first duty is always to the American people, and to the Constitution that protects our rights and safeguards our liberties,” she added.
The executive order placed a 120-day pause on refugees entering the U.S., and a 90-day suspension on people entering the country from seven Muslim-majority countries: Somalia, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. Syrian refugees are banned indefinitely.
Following Yates’ decision Monday that she would not defend the executive order in court, the White House relieved her within hours and released a statement blasting her for being “weak on borders” and “very weak on illegal immigration.”
Yates did not say that the order was illegal, only that it was apparently not “consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”
In Yates’ stead, the White House announced that the U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Virginia would take over as acting attorney general until GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions is confirmed through the Senate.
Since the executive order, Democrats have grown incredibly hostile to the idea of Sessions serving as attorney general, but Senate Republicans will likely not face any real trouble moving the confirmation through.
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