(CNN)President Donald Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night for “refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States,” the White House said.
“(Yates) has betrayed the Department of Justice,” the White House statement said.
Dana Boente, US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, the White House said, and was sworn in at 9 p.m. ET, per an administration official. A few hours later, Boente issued a statement rescinding Yates’ order, instructing DOJ lawyers to “defend the lawful orders of our President.”
Trump didn’t call Yates to dismiss her, she was informed by hand-delivered letter, according to a different administration official.
The dramatic move came soon after CNN reported Yates told Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments defending Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees.
The move set up a clash between the White House and Yates, who was appointed by President Barack Obama and was set to serve until Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s nominee for attorney general, if confirmed.
“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.”
Trump’s executive order, signed Friday, bars citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days, suspends the admission of all refugees for 120 days and indefinitely suspends the Syrian refugee program. Yates’ decision came amid a flood of protests against the executive order nationwide and after four federal judges ruled against Trump’s order, staying its impact on people who were detained at US airports over the weekend.