Acting Attorney General Sally Yates said the Justice Department would not defend new travel restrictions targeting seven Muslim-majority nations because she was not convinced they were lawful.
Hours later, the White House announced that Yates, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, had been “relieved” of her duties.
In a tweet, Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed Dana Boente, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, would replace Yates.
On Monday, Yates told Justice Department lawyers in a letter that they would not defend in court Trump’s directive that put a 120-day hold on allowing refugees into the country, an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria and a 90-day bar on citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
.@POTUS has named Dana Boente, US Attorney for the Eastern District of VA as Acting Attorney General. Sally Yates has been relieved.
— Sean Spicer (@PressSec) January 31, 2017
She said did not believe defending the order would be “consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”
Trump has argued tougher vetting of immigrants is needed to protect America from terror attacks but critics complain that his order unfairly singles out Muslims and defiles America’s historic reputation as a welcoming place for immigrants.