Sally Yates was one of the first casualties in Trump’s strategy of obstruction towards a Justice Department that was tasked with investigating Russian collusion with his presidential campaign.
The former assistant Attorney General briefly served as Acting Attorney General at the very beginning of the Trump administration while Jeff Sessions was waiting to be confirmed to lead the Justice Department by the Senate.
Her tenure was cut short when she was fired by Trump after she refused to defend his initial executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. because she felt that it was illegal. Her opinion was subsequently confirmed by multiple federal judges.
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After her firing, Sessions was confirmed and installed Rod Rosenstein as his deputy, leaving Rosenstein in charge of the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian collusion after Sessions recused himself from the inquiry because of his “misstatements” about his contacts with Russian agents during his confirmation hearings.
Now, Yates has emerged to give her take on today’s bombshell announcements that the president has requested Sessions’ resignation and that Rosenstein is no longer supervising the Mueller probe.
We should not lose sight of why POTUS fired the AG – because he wants a political crony to protect him from the investigation of his own campaign.The rule of law is disappearing before our eyes. My column from a year ago when POTUS began trying to humiliate the AG into resigning. https://t.co/8ARr1A4GhQ
— Sally Yates (@SallyQYates) November 7, 2018
After Yates’ devastating indictment of the president’s disrespect for the rule of law, she links to an op-ed she wrote for The New York Times last summer where she lays out the case for the primacy of the independent operation of the Justice Department as fundamental to the impartial exercise of justice in this nation.
“The Justice Department is not just another federal agency. It is charged with fulfilling our country’s promise of equal and impartial justice for all. As an agency with the authority to deprive citizens of their liberty, its investigations and prosecutions must be conducted free from any political interference or influence, and decisions must be made based solely on the facts and the law,” Yates wrote in the op-ed.
“To fulfill this weighty responsibility, past administrations, both Democratic and Republican, have jealously guarded a strict separation between the Justice Department and the White House when it comes to investigations and prosecutions. While there may be interaction on broad policies, any White House involvement in cases or investigations, including whom or what to investigate, has been flatly forbidden,” she continued.
Yates’ warning from last year seems sinisterly prophetic in light of today’s events. With the rule of law under attack from the White House itself as Yates so rightly points out, one can only hope that the newly elected House of Representatives can turn back the tide of corruption and self-interest when they are sworn into office in January. As the former acting Attorney General said in her op-ed: “The very foundation of our justice system — the rule of law — depends on it.”
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