US Attorney General sacked after wavering over ‘Muslim ban’

US Acting Attorney General Sally Yates
US Acting Attorney General Sally Yates

US Acting Attorney General Sally Yates has been sacked by US President Donald Trump after refusing to defend a controversial executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

In a letter, Ms Yates had said she was not “convinced that the executive order is lawful”.

Ms Yates added: “Consequently, for as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defence of the executive order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.”

Within hours, the White House announced that Ms Yates would be replaced as Acting Attorney General by Dana Boente, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, pending the approval by Congress of Senator Jeff Sessions’s permanent appointment.

In a statement, the White House said: “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.”

Trump’s decision marks the first time a US Attorney General has been dismissed since Nixon dismissed then-Attorney General Eliot Richardson in the midst of the developing Watergate scandal in 1973.

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