20th Jul 2017
Former acting attorney general Sally Yates, who was abruptly fired by President Donald Trump, criticized him Thursday for again violating the essential independence of the Department of Justice. It followed the presidents admission that he would not have appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions because he recused himself from the multiple investigations into whether Trumps campaign colluded with Russia.
In a tweet Thursday, Yates called the DOJ’s independence a bedrock principle of our democracy.
In an interview Wednesday with The New York Times, Trump said he would have picked somebody else had he known Sessions would recuse himself.
Sessions should have never recused himself and if he was going to recuse himself he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else, Trump said.
Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you. Its extremely unfair and that’s a mild word to the president.
The recusal came after The Washington Post discovered that Sessions did not disclose at least two meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during his confirmation process to become attorney general. The then-senator was also one of Trumps first prominent supporters during his presidential campaign.
Trump dismissed Yates in January, after she refused to defend his executive order banning travel and immigration from several majority-Muslim countries, determining that the ban was unlawful.
In May, she testified before the Senate that around the same time, she had warned White House officials about then-national security adviser Mike Flynn’s ties to Russia. Flynn resigned in Februaryafter misleading the administration about his interactions with Russian officials about sanctions.
Yates is one of several Justice Department officials Trump has abruptly fired. Trump fired James Comeyas FBI director amid the bureaus investigation into his campaign. He also fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, reportedly after his office was investigating Trumps Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price.
Bharara also weighed in on Trumps comments late Wednesday, joking that Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein could join him as law professors at New York University and teach employment law together.