Acting Attorney General Sally Yates has ordered the Department of Justice not to defend President Donald Trump's ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. Yates, an Obama appointee, told the department not to defend the ban in court, saying she questioned the ban's legality.
“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,” Yates wrote in a Monday letter to Justice Department lawyers. “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.”
The ban is currently facing a bevy of legal challenges, including one from the state of Washington. Yates is soon expected to be replaced by Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump's attorney general nominee, who can overturn her ruling. Yates, who has served with the DOJ for 27 years, became a Deputy Attorney General in 2015 under the Obama administration. Shortly before Obama left office, Trump invited Yates to remain on as acting attorney general from his January 20 inauguration until his own attorney general pick was confirmed.