The acting Attorney General Sally Yates has announced that she has ordered Department of Justice lawyers to decline from defending Trump's controversial executive order restricting entry into the United States by refugees and other immigrants.
CNN first reported the news Monday:
The acting Attorney General Sally Yates has told Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments defending President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees, according to sources familiar with the order.
Yates was appointed by Obama and is serving as the Attorney General until Trump's pick Senator Jeff Sessions is confirmed by Congress. Trump's controversial executive order shut down the refugee resettlement program for 120 days and halted entries from 7 terror-stricken countries for 90 days - Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, Yemen and Libya. It also banned all entries indefinitely from Syria.
Yates released a letter saying she did not believe the order to be lawful.
"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," she said in a letter. "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," she wrote.
The order was implemented with much confusion, causing detentions of refugees and other immigrants at airports across the country. This inspired another wave of protests at those airports against what many saw as an illegal and unconstitutional order.
Democrats have vowed to introduce legislation to overturn the order, and also threatened to filibuster Trump's administration nominations. Trump's former presidential competitor Hillary Clinton chose to join the chorus criticizing Trump's action, including the ACLU, and also some Republicans. Even former president Obama broke the silence traditionally expected of those who have left the Oval Office about their successors for the sake of criticizing Trump's order.