Dismissal of Sally Yates

Last updated on 14 July 2017

The dismissal of Sally Yates refers to U.S President Donald Trump dismissed acting Attorney General Sally Yates on January 30, 2017. Trump also demoted and replaced acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement director Daniel Ragsdale. The move was labeled the "Monday Night Massacre" by a number of politicians, political commentators and news reports,[1] while the use of the term was questioned by others.[2][3] The name alludes to the 1973 Saturday Night Massacre, during the Watergate scandal, when Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus both resigned after refusing to carry out President Richard Nixon's order to dismiss special prosecutor Archibald Cox.[1]

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Sally Yates, who as appointed by Obama administration, was the Acting United States Attorney General from January 20, 2017 until her dismissal by President Donald Trump on January 30, 2017.
Donald Trump (29273256122) - Cropped.jpg
Donald Trump (29273256122) - Cropped.jpg

Dismissal of Sally Yates

The firing of acting Attorney General Sally Yates, a career prosecutor appointed by President Barack Obama, followed her refusal to defend Trump's executive order banning the entry of nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries because she was not convinced the executive order was lawful.[4] This came after several federal courts issued stays on various parts of Trump's executive order to stop them from being put into effect and many U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents did not follow the stays.[5] Trump replaced Yates with Dana Boente, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. After taking office, Boente ordered the Justice Department to enforce the executive order.[6]

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White House Press Release on Sally Yates

In a White House statement, Yates was said to have "betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States" and to be "very weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration".[7][8] Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke on the Senate floor that evening, and called her firing a "Monday night massacre".[8] Watergate investigative journalist Carl Bernstein, speaking on CNN, rejected the comparison, saying, "There's a big difference, because the Saturday Night Massacre was really about firing the attorney general when Nixon was the target of an investigation and was actively obstructing justice", he also stated that, "I think the president is within his rights here to fire the attorney general, that he has that ability."[9]

Many Trump critics praised Yates for standing up against what they perceived as an unconstitutional executive order, but some legal experts including Alan Dershowitz, Michael Gerhardt and Jonathan Adler questioned Yates's decision.[3][10] Some critics also believed the rhetoric of "betrayal" Trump used in his letter to the former attorney general was unnecessarily incendiary.[11]

Demotion of Daniel Ragsdale

Shortly thereafter, acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement director Daniel Ragsdale was demoted and replaced by Thomas Homan with Ragsdale remaining as deputy director.[12][7]

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Blake, Aaron. "Sally Yates is now a martyr for the anti-Trump movement. But legally speaking, it’s more complicated.". The Washington Post.
  4. ^ Yates, Sally (January 30, 2017). "Letter From Sally Yates". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  5. ^ "Courts Stay Trump's Order Targeting Muslims, but Confusion Reigns". The Atlantic. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  6. ^ Schleifer, Theodore (January 31, 2017). "New acting attorney general set for brief tenure". CNN. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Lichtblau, Eric; Apuzzo, Matt; Landler, Mark (January 30, 2017). "Trump Fires Acting Attorney General". The New York Times. Retrieved January 31, 2017. The decision by the acting attorney general is a remarkable rebuke by a government official to a sitting president that recalls the dramatic "Saturday Night Massacre" in 1973, when President Richard M. Nixon fired his attorney general and deputy attorney general for refusing to dismiss the special prosecutor in the Watergate case. That case prompted a constitutional crisis that ended when Robert Bork, the solicitor general, acceded to Mr. Nixon's order and fired Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor.
  8. ^ a b Gerstein, Josh (January 30, 2017). "Trump fires defiant acting attorney general". Politico. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  9. ^ Zelizer, Julian (January 31, 2017). "Monday night massacre is a wake-up call to Senate Democrats". CNN. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  10. ^ Adler, Jonathan (January 30, 2017). "Acting attorney general orders Justice Department attorneys not to defend immigration executive order [UPDATED]". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  11. ^ Cillizza, Chris. "Donald Trump firing Sally Yates isn't the big story. How he did it is.". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  12. ^

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