US attorney general defies Trump immigrant ban

Ebun Francis with agency report

Sally Yates,the US acting attorney general Monday instructed justice department officials not to defend President Donald Trump’s immigration order.

The Barack Obama appointee, said she was not “convinced that the executive order is lawful”.

“The Department of Justice will not present arguments in defence of the executive order,” she said.

In a letter to employees published by US media, she noted that the order had been challenged in court in a number of jurisdictions.

“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,” she wrote.

“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.”

Ms Yates was the deputy attorney general under Loretta Lynch, when President Obama was in office. She became the acting attorney general once Ms Lynch left the position.

President Trump asked her to remain as head of the justice department in an acting capacity until his nominee was formally appointed but with this development, Ms Yates is expected to be fired.