The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, issued a directive to US Attorneys not to defend the muslim ban in federal court stating:
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. 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.
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.
Two hours later, she was fired.
Needless to say, this is rather unusual wording for an official statement.
Ironically, Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions questioned Sally Yates during her confirmation hearing asking, “Do you think the Attorney General has the responsibility to say to no to the President if he asks for something something improper? A lot of people have been defending the Lynch nomination by saying, ‘Well, he appoints somebody that’s going to execute his views. What’s wrong with that?’ But, if the views that the President wants to execute are unlawful, should the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General say no?” Yates was approved 84-12.
Yates’s replacement is Dana Boente, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. It was reported that Boente was not in the line of succession at DOJ headquarters. It appears he got the job because he is defending the ban in district court. He immediately rescinded Yates’s directive.