Was Firing Acting A.G. Yates ‘Business as Usual?’
Donald Trump is used to making decisions quickly, by himself. In fact, he has said that he feels that his “superficiality” is a virtue, because details don’t get in the way. He makes snap decisions—and moves on. Therefore, it will be up to Congress, and the people, to evaluate Trump’s decisions, and whether they are the right direction.
On Monday, Trump fired the acting attorney general, Sally Yates, who had balked at the president’s ban on Muslims from seven countries from entering the country. The conservative Hot Air commented.
“Why didn’t she just resign?” people asked last night on social media. The only answer I can think of is PR. The headline “Defiant acting AG resigns in protest over travel ban” is good for Yates and her sympathizers; the headline “Imperious president fires defiant acting AG who refused to enforce travel ban” is much better. The second one makes it possible for liberals to frame this, stupidly and self-servingly, as a “Monday Night Massacre.” The first one doesn’t. In choosing between two outcomes for her “Swan Lake” routine, Yates chose the one with maximum pathos for an adoring Democratic audience.
Of course, Trump is trying to say it’s not a “Muslim” ban. But that’s not what he told former NY mayor, Rudy Guiliani, who was asked to fashion the ban, according to Business Insider.
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani told Fox in an interview on Saturday that he helped draft President Donald Trump’s “extreme vetting” executive order after Trump called him and asked how to do a “Muslim ban” “legally.”
“When he first announced it, he said ‘Muslim ban,'” Giuliani, who served as the vice chairman of Trump’s transition team, told Fox. “He called me up. He said ‘put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.'”
The argument is that the ban is just about stopping people from “terrorist” countries, such as from our “ally,” Iraq. And did not include ANY of the countries from which the 9/11 plane-jackers came from, most notably, Osama bin Laden’s home, Saudi Arabia.
The argument that it is not a “Muslim ban” is then destroyed by the fact that Christians from those same countries are being welcomed. That even upset Evangelical Christians, according to the Guardian.
Evangelical leaders are asking Donald Trump to reconsider his refugee ban, joining other Christian groups in arguing that welcoming refugees is an essential part of their faith.
The leader of a prominent US evangelical aid group said Trump’s move to give Christian refugees priority was wrong.
“We oppose any religions test that would place the suffering of one people over another,” said Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals.
Other Christian leaders also came out strongly against the notion that the US should prioritize Christian refugees, which Trump said in an interview he wanted to do and which the executive order he signed on Friday couched in terms of preferring religious minorities from the seven Muslim-majority countries concerned.
The firing of Yates is made more poignant because Jeff Sessions, the person who will ultimately replace Yates, once told her it would be her job to stand up to the president, according to Alabama’s AL.com.
During the 2015 hearing, Sessions asked Yates about her ability to stand up to then-President Barack Obama:
“You think the Attorney General has the responsibility to say no to the President if he asks for something that’s improper?” Sessions asked Yates. “A lot of people have defended the (Loretta) Lynch nomination, for example, by saying ‘well, he appoints somebody who’s going to execute his views, what’s wrong with that? But if the views the President wants to execute are unlawful, should the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General say no?”
“Senator, I believe the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General has an obligation to follow the law and the Constitution and to give their independent legal advice to the President.”
Meanwhile, the Hill referred to the firing as the “Monday Night Massacre” comparing it to the “Saturday Night Massacre,” the last time a president got rid of an acting attorney general for refusing to cooperate—that time, by Richard Nixon.
John Dean, former White House counsel under President Richard Nixon, is calling President Trump’s firing of his acting attorney general on Monday night a “new low.”
“I’ve never read White House statement as nasty as Trump’s attack on Acting AG Sally Yates,” Dean tweeted. “New low.” . . .
Many on social media compared Trump’s decision on Monday to the so-called Saturday Night Massacre during the Nixon era.
In 1973, Nixon clashed with his attorney general, demanding that the special prosecutor handling the Watergate investigation be fired.
Rather than carry out Nixon’s order, Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus both resigned.
Note that the Nixon White House originally claimed to have fired Ruckelshaus, so there’s some question whether he resigned or was fired.
Some are saying that Trump’s executive order was legal, and so it was the job of the acting attorney general to enforce it. But if that’s the argument, wasn’t it just as legal for an attorney general, or acting attorney general, to fire his employee (the special prosecutor)? Is it more about ethics?
The same people who are condemning Yates, earlier praised Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who refused to sign marriage licenses for gay couples, even though there was no question that it was the law of the land, and it was her job to sign marriage licenses. Davis did not resign, and she was not fired.
The conservative Washington Examiner sees the connection, and surprisingly, supports Yates.
Sally Yates is correct about President Trump’s immigration order.
It is unwise and unjust to bar people who have proper visas from entering the country, and it is unwise and unjust to suspend our refugee program which hasn’t shown any signs of porousness. . .
Instead of doing her job, she went the same route as Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples. Taking a stand on conscience is great. But if we are to be a nation of laws, agents of the government need to enforce the law, not their own consciences.
The exception to this rule is if the order from on high is unlawful. If Yates believed that was the case, she should have made that argument in her letter barring her underlings from enforcing it.
The article went on to say that Yates did say, “I am not convinced” that Trump’s executive order is lawful. Her implication was that it would need analysis, and only be enforced if it were deemed lawful.
As noted above, this is more about ethics and PR than law. Yes, Trump had the right to fire an employee. But was it really necessary, considering that the new attorney general was due to be confirmed any day? Was this just a show of macho retribution? After all, this wasn’t about enforcing the order. She just said she couldn’t defend it in court, if it came to that. Would it reasonably hit the courts before Jeff Sessions takes office??
Radio host Rush Limbaugh said that Trump should have removed all hold-over employees. The conservative American Thinker thinks Rush is dead wrong.
I normally agree with most of what Rush Limbaugh says, but on his Tuesday radio show, he appeared to chide President Donald Trump for not getting rid of all of Obama’s political appointees. . .
Mr. Limbaugh appeared to state that this storm could have been prevented, had President Trump accepted all of the resignations of all Obama appointees, keeping none of them on to serve him. I agree, but that wasn’t Trump’s strategy here. This “storm” will turn out to be a huge win for President Trump, and here is why. . .
President Trump needed to be able to publicly fire someone — show that he is “draining the swamp” and to do so in such a circumstance that the firing was clearly warranted. Yates’ insubordinate actions enabled President Trump to immediately take action and publicly fire an agency head for open and notorious defiance of a lawful order. This swift response to liberal defiance, put audiences, both domestic and foreign on notice — There is a new sheriff in town and he doesn’t play games.
In other words, it was all theater on both sides. The Democrat wanted to be seen as standing up to authority. The Republican wanted to be seen as crushing her. Sounds a lot like business-as-usual in Foggy Bottom.