Sally Yates: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Sally Yates speaks during a press conference to announce environmental and consumer relief in the Volkswagen litigation at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC on June 28, 2016. (Getty)

Hours after instructing the Department of Justice not to defend President Donald Trump’s recent travel ban, Sally Yates has been fired from her position of acting attorney general of the United States.

This dramatic development comes on the third day of protests against President Trump’s executive order that suspends immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Sally Yates is 56 years old and is a member of the Democratic party. She is from Atlanta, Georgia, is married to Comer Yates, and has two children: Kelley Malone Yates and James Quillian Yates.

Here’s what you need to know about Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general, and what she had to say about Donald Trump’s executive order.

1. She Was Serving as Attorney General Until Jeff Sessions’ Confirmation

Jeff Sessions Trump Tower, Jeff Sessions Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions trump tower meeting

Jeff Sessions arrives for a meeting with Donald Trump at Trump Tower. (Getty)

Sally Yates became the acting attorney general of the United States on January 20th, the day President Trump was inaugurated.

Yates was to serve in this position until President Trump had his own nominee for attorney general confirmed. His pick is Jeff Sessions; the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its final hearing on Sessions’ confirmation on Tuesday.

Sessions has faced scrutiny from Democrats during his confirmation process, specifically for his voting rights record, but because Democratic votes are not required for his approval, it is expected that he will be confirmed by the end of the week.

However, Democrats now have an even greater incentive to oppose Jeff Sessions’ confirmation; the American Civil Liberties Union on Sunday urged the Senate to delay Sessions’ vote until after Trump’s travel ban is lifted.

2. She Was Previously Deputy Attorney General & Was Appointed by Barack Obama

Sally Yates speaks during a formal investiture ceremony for Attorney General Loretta Lynch on June 17th, 2015. (Getty)

Sally Yates speaks during a formal investiture ceremony for Attorney General Loretta Lynch on June 17th, 2015. (Getty)

Yates was formerly the United States Deputy Attorney General, having been appointed by Barack Obama in January 2015. She was confirmed that May, at which point she became the second highest ranking person in the Justice Department.

Yates’ confirmation was initially opposed by Republicans, but she was able to win them over during her confirmation process; she was approved on a 84-12 vote, according to The Washington Times.

As deputy attorney general, Sally Yates oversaw 116,000 employees, including the FBI, the DEA, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Prisons, according to The Washington Post.

When Sally Yates was confirmed as deputy attorney general, she said one of her goals would be granting clemency to nonviolent drug ­offenders. The Obama administration ultimately granted clemency to more individuals than any administration since Harry Truman.

“Those policies were enacted at a time of an exploding violent-crime rate and serious crack problems,” Yates said in 2015, referring to drug sentencing policies from the 1980s and 1990s. “They were based on the environment we were in. But things have changed now, and violent crime rates have dropped dramatically.”

3. She Started Working at the Department of Justice in 1989

Sally Yates testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 8th, 2015. (Getty)

Sally Yates testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 8th, 2015. (Getty)

Sally Yates’ career in the United States Department of Justice stretches back nearly three decades.

Yates started in 1989 as assistant attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Georgia. In 1994, she became chief of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section; in 2002, she became first assistant U.S. Attorney; in 2004, she became acting U.S. Attorney; and in 2010, she became U.S. Attorney.

“She’s remarkably talented and has a solution to every problem,” former FBI director Louis J. Freehsaid told The Washington Post in 2014. “Her biggest fans are the FBI street agents, the DEA agents, the postal inspectors and the Secret Service. Everybody sings her praises. And she has no ego. She would rather be writing a sentencing memo than get up and have a press conference.”

Eric Holder, former attorney general of the United States, has also praised Yates.

“She was totally conversant with the facts,” Holder said in 2015, recalling his first impression of Yates. “She had a real knowledge of the law and a real good tactical sense about where this case ought to go, good predictions that were borne out about how ultimately it was going to be resolved. She had done her homework. She showed a keen sensitivity to the trauma that this had inflicted on the Atlanta region. She just was a star.”

The most prominent case Sally Yates has been involved in is that of Eric Rudolph, the man behind several anti-abortion and anti-gay bombings in the 1990s; Yates served as lead prosecutor of that case, and Rudolph ultimately received four consecutive life sentences.

“She did a phenomenal job putting that difficult, complicated case together,” former FBI director Louis J. Freeh, who worked with Yates on the Rudolph Case, told The Washington Post in 2014.

Yates has also prosecuted a number of corruption cases.

“Our prosecutions demonstrate to the world that the United States won’t allow its companies – or companies listed on its exchanges – to engage in corrosive conduct abroad,” Yates said in November 2016. “The damage caused by corruption is just as real in Angola and Azerbaijan as it is in Atlanta and Albuquerque, and it’s our obligation to advance the rule of law wherever our laws apply.”

4. She Said That President Trump’s Executive Order is Not Lawful

Sally Yates speaks alongside FBI Director James Comey and Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, as they attend a new Implicit Bias Training program at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC, June 28th, 2016. (Getty)

Sally Yates speaks alongside FBI Director James Comey and Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, as they attend a new Implicit Bias Training program at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC, June 28th, 2016. (Getty)

On Monday night, Yates ordered the Justice Department not to defend President Trump’s executive order, saying that she does not believe it is lawful.

“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 said in her letter, according to The New York Times. “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.”

Yates went on to say, “For as long as I am the acting attorney general, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the executive order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.”

She was fired from her position hours later.

5. The White House Says She ‘Betrayed’ the Department of Justice

Donald Trump oval office, Donald Trump oval office desk, donald trump sign executive order

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House on January 24, 2017. (Getty)

In a statement released on Monday night, the White House said that Sally Yates has betrayed the Department of Justice.

The statement goes on to criticize Yates as being “weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration,” adding that the country has to get serious about defending itself against terrorism.

Here is the full statement released by the White House:

The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.

Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.

It is time to get serious about protecting our country. Calling for tougher vetting for individuals travelling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country.

Tonight, President Trump relieved Ms. Yates of her duties and subsequently named Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to serve as Acting Attorney General until Senator Jeff Sessions is finally confirmed by the Senate, where he is being wrongly held up by Democrat senators for strictly political reasons.

“I am honored to serve President Trump in this role until Senator Sessions is confirmed. I will defend and enforce the laws of our country to ensure that our people and our nation are protected,” said Dana Boente, Acting Attorney General.


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