President Donald Trump has fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she questioned the legality of his immigration ban.
Sally Yates, who had been appointed under President Barack Obama, earlier ordered justice department lawyers not to enforce the president’s executive order.
Dana J. Boente, US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, replaced Sally Yates as acting attorney general.
He has directed the department to enforce Donald Trump’s order.
In a statement, the White House said Sally Yates had “betrayed” the department.
Donald Trump’s order temporarily banned nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, and sparked street protests in the country and abroad.
In a letter, Sally Yates had said she was “not convinced” that the president’s order was lawful.
She said: “As long as I am the acting attorney general, the department of justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order.”
Within hours, the White House announced: “President Trump relieved Ms Yates of her duties.”
Image source Wikipedia
Sally Yates had “betrayed the department of justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States”, a statement from the press secretary said.
The statement also described her as “weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration”.
Sally Yates’ replacement, Dana Boente, was also appointed by Barack Obama, in 2015. He was confirmed by the US Senate – making him eligible for appointment while President Trump waits for his own nominee to be approved.
Senator Jeff Sessions is awaiting a confirmation hearing for the role later this week.
Meanwhile, hundreds of diplomats and foreign servants have been drafting a “dissent cable” to formally criticize Trump’s executive order.
A draft version of the cable said that immigration restrictions will not make the US safer, are un-American and will send the wrong message to the Muslim world.
The ban bars citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
The White House has consistently defended Donald Trump’s executive order despite the controversy, with press secretary Sean Spicer saying diplomats should “get with the program”.
In addition, former President Barack Obama has apparently broken with the convention of former presidents avoiding comment on their successors.
Commenting on the protests about the immigration order, Barack Obama said he was “heartened”.
In a statement, which did not mention Donald Trump by name, Barack Obama said: “Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organise and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.”
Donald Trump also replaced the acting director of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Daniel Ragsdale, who has been in the post since January 20. He is the former deputy director.
The president appointed Thomas Homan, the executive associate director of enforcement and removal, as the new acting director.
A statement from the Department of Homeland Security announcing the change did not explain the reason for it.
President Donald Trump is standing firm over his ban on immigration from seven countries despite court rulings and mass protests against it.
In a statement, the president said visas would once again be issued once “the most secure policies” were in place, and denied it was a Muslim ban.
The move has been widely condemned.
Meanwhile, 16 state attorneys general have said the order is unconstitutional. Several federal judges have temporarily halted the deportation of visa holders.
Donald Trump’s executive order, signed on January 27, halted the entire US refugee program for 120 days, indefinitely banned Syrian refugees, and suspended all nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Those who were already mid-flight were detained on arrival – even if they held valid US visas or other immigration permits. It is not known how many others were turned away at airports overseas as they tried to board flights to the US.
Thousands gathered at airports around the country to protest on January 28, including lawyers who offered their services for free to those affected.
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Further demonstrations were held on January 29, including protests outside the White House and Trump Tower in New York.
As well as the ban on all refugees, travelers who have nationality or dual nationality of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen are not permitted to enter the United States for 90 days, or be issued an immigrant or non-immigrant visa.
This includes those who share dual nationality with allied countries, although Canada has been told its dual nationals are not affected.
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said US green-card holders – legal residents – would also not be affected, but some have been detained since the order came into effect.
President Trump tweeted early on January 29 that the US needed “extreme vetting, NOW” but later, in a statement, tried to offer more reassuring words, saying: “This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe.
“We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days.”
Reince Priebus rejected criticism that the implementation of the order had been chaotic, and said only 109 people, out of 325,000 travelling, had been detained and “most of those people were moved out”.
He told reporters on January 29: “We’ve got a couple of dozen more that remain and I would suspect that as long as they’re not awful people that they will move through before another half a day today.”
However, they have failed to allay concern among some in their Republican party. Senator John McCain said the order would “probably, in some areas, give ISIS some more propaganda”, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was important to remember that “some of our best sources in the war against radical Islamic terrorism are Muslims”.
Democratic Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer said the US now appeared “less humanitarian, less safe, less American” and said the Democrats would introduce legislation to overturn it.
In a joint statement, 16 attorneys general, from states including California, New York and Pennsylvania, said they would “use all of the tools of our offices to fight this unconstitutional order” and, until it was struck down, would “work to ensure that as few people as possible suffer from the chaotic situation that it has created”.
Yesterday, federal Judge Ann Donnelly, in New York, ruled against the removal from the US of people with approved refugee applications, valid visas, and “other individuals… legally authorized to enter the United States”.
President Barack Obama has attacked the Muslim ban proposed by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump saying that is “not the America we want”.
Treating Muslim-Americans differently will only make the US less safe by increasing division between the West and the Muslim world, Barack Obama said.
On June 13, Donald Trump extended his ban plan to people from all countries with a terror history against the US.
The New York billionaire said the deadly Orlando nightclub shootings justified such action.
Forty-nine people were killed when Omar Mateen, a US national with Afghan parents, opened fire in a gay club on June 12.
Donald Trump said his proposal could be implemented through unilateral executive action, given the president’s power to “suspend entry into the country of any class of persons that the president deems detrimental to the interests or security of the United States”.
On June 14, at the US Treasury in Washington, a visibly angry Barack Obama launched his strongest assault yet on Donald Trump who is expected to be confirmed as the Republican nominee next month.
Barack Obama said the US had been founded on freedom of religion and having a “religious test” would be against the US Constitution.
The president also noted that recent terror attacks in the US had been carried out by people born in the US.
Omar Mateen, 29, was born in the same New York neighborhood as Donald Trump.
Barack Obama also urged the US to reinstate the ban on assault weapons.
He dismissed Donald Trump’s suggestion that he resign because he refuses to use the word “radical Islamic terrorism”.
“If we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims with a broad brush and imply that we are at war with an entire religion, then we are doing the terrorists’ work for them,” he said.
PresidentObama will visit the scene of the carnage in Orlando on June 16.
Donald Trump has called on Muslims to work with the police and “turn people in”.
In an interview with the British channel ITV, the presumptive Republican nominee said he was not anti-Muslim, but “anti-terror”.
Donald Trump was reacting to remarks by UK PM David Cameron that he was “stupid, divisive and wrong” in calling for Muslims to be banned from the US.
The billionaire made the call last year, when he was not the GOP’s front-runner.
Donald Trump insisted that when he called for an immediate temporary ban on Muslims being allowed into America, there had been criticism only from politicians. Millions of people from all over the world had called in, he said, saying “Donald Trump is right”.
Asked whether he would re-phrase those comments in the light of the controversy they caused, Donald Trump said: “It got people thinking. Whether it’s good for me or bad for me, I don’t really care.”
“Something very bad” was going on that people pretended didn’t exist, Donald Trump said.
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The world had a tremendous problem with radical Islamic terror, he said.
“If you look at it world-wide, the world is blowing up. And it’s not people from Sweden that’s doing the damage, okay?”
It is up to Muslims to turn in people they suspected of extremism, he added.
“They have to work with the police. They’re not turning them in. If they’re not playing ball, it’s not going to work out.”
Referring to David Cameron’s criticism, Donald Trump also said it looked like he was not going to have a good relationship with the UK prime minister.
Donald Trump also criticized the new Mayor of London Sadiq Khan for calling him “ignorant”.
The Republican is one of the least politically experienced nominees in US history, having never held elected office.
Many senior Republicans have refused to back Donald Trump. All other Republican rivals have dropped out of the campaign.
Donald Trump has softened his stance on temporarily barring Muslims from travelling to the US.
Responding to remarks by newly elected London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Donald Trump told Fox News Radio the ban was “just a suggestion”.
Sadiq Khan has expressed concern that he would not be able to travel to the US under a Trump administration because of his Muslim faith.
The Republican presidential hopeful had offered to make an “exception” for Sadiq Khan.
Sadiq Khan refused Donald Trump’s offer, saying the New York businessman’s views were “ignorant” and would make the UK and the US “less safe”.
Donald Trump proposed a ban on Muslims entering the US after attacks in Paris killed 130 people last year.
The suggested ban has been widely criticized in the US and abroad but Donald Trump until now has stood by the proposal, saying it was needed to ensure US security.
Donald Trump said on May 11: “It’s a temporary ban. It hasn’t been called for yet.
“This is just a suggestion until we find out what’s going on.”
He has shifted positions in the past on a variety of issues only to change his stance days later.
Donald Trump has often given conflicting accounts on issues including his tax plan, abortion and transgender people accessing public toilets.
This flexibility has led to concerns among Republican Party leaders about his candidacy.
Top Republicans including House Speaker Paul Ryan have said they are not ready to support Donald Trump in the general election.
The billionaire will meet Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and others on May 12 in an attempt to resolve differences.
Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican Mitt Romney – who ran against President Barack Obama in 2012 – separately raised questions about Donald Trump’s tax returns.
Donald Trump has so far refused to release his tax records – a common practice among presidential nominees. Hillary Clinton has posted her past eight tax returns on her website.
Mitt Romney said: “It is disqualifying for a modern-day presidential nominee to refuse to release tax returns to the voters, especially one who has not been subject to public scrutiny in either military or public service.”