Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The acting U.S. attorney general, Sally Yates, said she will not defend President Trump’s executive order regarding immigration because she is not convinced it is “lawful,” according to a letter.
“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 wrote.
“Consequently, 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.”
Trump’s order, which affects immigration from seven countries that have predominantly Muslim populations, temporarily bans certain travelers and places indefinite restrictions on Syrian refugees.
The order sparked protests at airports as well as legal action. A federal judge stayed part of the order regarding deportations.
Yates, who was nominated by former President Obama and confirmed in May 2015, wrote that the “order has now been challenged in a number of jurisdictions.”
She also wrote that the Office of Legal Counsel’s review of the order “does not address whether any policy choice embodied in an Executive Order is wise or just.”
“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 wrote. “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.”
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