Trump Fired the Acting Attorney General for Refusing to Defend the Muslim Ban

This hasn't happened since the Nixon administration.

Update (1/30/17, 9:37 p.m.): In response to Sally Yates's statement refusing to defend the Muslim ban, President Trump fired her. She will be replaced by attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Dana Boente.

The White House released a statement saying she's "betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States."

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The statement called Yates "weak on borders" and "very weak on illegal immigration," adding that "tougher vetting for individuals travelling from seven dangerous places is not extreme."

As The New York Times (opens in new tab) notes, the last time a situation like this occurred was in 1973, when Richard Nixon fired his attorney general and deputy attorney general "for refusing to dismiss the special prosecutor in the Watergate case."

President Trump's attorney general pick, Jeff Sessions (opens in new tab), is still awaiting Senate confirmation; in the meantime, Sally Yates, active attorney general from Obama's administration, is taking action against Trump's Muslim ban (opens in new tab).

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In a letter to lawyers in the Justice Department released Monday night, Yates said it's her responsibility is to ensure "that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution's solemn obligation to to always seek justice and stand for what's right":

Former attorney general Eric Holder praised Yates after her declaration, saying that "her judgment should be trusted."

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Trump also took to Twitter (naturally) in what seems to be a response to Yates's statement, claiming that Democrats "are delaying my cabinet picks for purely political reasons."

As The New York Times (opens in new tab) highlights, the statement was "largely symbolic" as the Senate will likely confirm Sessions soon, but it still "highlights the deep divide" within the U.S. government.

Follow Marie Claire on Facebook (opens in new tab) for the latest celeb news, beauty tips, fascinating reads, livestream video, and more.

As The New York Times (opens in new tab) highlights, the statement was "largely symbolic" as the Senate will likely confirm Sessions soon, but it still "highlights the deep divide" within the U.S. government.

Follow Marie Claire on Facebook (opens in new tab) for the latest celeb news, beauty tips, fascinating reads, livestream video, and more.

Jessica Pels
Jessica Pels

As the editor of Cosmopolitan, Jess oversees the editorial for all of Cosmo's efforts across print, digital, video, and emerging platforms. Previously she served as the digital director of Marie Claire, where she tripled the readership, and she's held print and hybrid posts at Glamour and Teen Vogue. In 2013 she launched an interactive e-commerce platform for a fashion-tech startup, and in a former life she was a ballet dancer and NYU film student. She lives in Manhattan with her scruffy dog George.