Monday Night Massacre: Trump Fires Top Lawyer after “Betraying” Him
Trump has fired Sally Yates, acting US attorney general, after she “betrayed” the department by refusing to defend his executive order banning entry for citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries. On Monday night, after dismissing Ms Yates, Trump appointed Dana J. Boente, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to be acting attorney general. Boente will remain until Trump’s pick for attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions is confirmed by the Senate. Sessions unsurprisingly is an extremely conservative Senator with a strong anti-immigration stance. A confirmation hearing will take place later this week for his appointment. If you aren’t yet familiar with his characteristic face, just imagine the fictitious Alfred E. Neuman on the covers of the American satirical magazine Mad.
Sally Yates, who was appointed under Barack Obama, was relieved of her duties within hours after she had written a letter in which she explained why she wasn’t “convinced that the Executive Order is lawful.”
A White House statement said: “Ms Yates is an Obama administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration. It is time to get serious about protecting our country. Calling for tougher vetting for individuals travelling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country.”
Senior adviser to the Democratic National Committee Zac Petkanas, said: “Donald Trump can try to silence heroic patriots like Sally Yates who dare to speak truth to power about his illegal anti-Muslim ban that emboldens terrorists around the globe. But he cannot silence the growing voices of an American people now wide awake to his tyrannical presidency.”
Monday Night Massacre
The New York Times and other newspapers referred to Yates dismissal as the Monday Night Massacre drawing connections with another historical dismissal referred to as the Saturday Night Massacre.
The term refers to President Nixon’s Saturday dismissal of independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox, and the ensuing resignations of attorney general Elliot Richardson and deputy attorney general William Ruckelshaus during the Watergate scandal of 1973. Cox was appointed the role of a special prosecutor to investigate the events in relation to the Watergate scandal and the break in at the Democratic Committee headquarters at the Watergate office. But when he issued a subpoena—an order to provide evidence—to access taped conversations in the Oval Office, and after rejecting Nixon’s decision to offer a reviewed summary of the material, Nixon decided to fire him. Richardson and Ruckelshaus refused to fire Cox and resigned. Eventually, Solicitor General Robert Bock was sworn in as acting attorney general and wrote the letter firing Cox. But soon Congress considered Nixon’s actions illegal and inappropriate, an example of his abuse of presidential power. A year later, and after attempts to impeach Nixon, he resigned on 9 August, 1974. There is something strangely familiar in the Russian hacking of the DNC’s emails and the alleged abuse of Trump’s presidential power. There is something of Nixon in Trump and the comparisons are everywhere.
Isn’t it Ironic, don’t you think?
President Trump fired Yates after she refused to defend his order. But in 2015 during Yate’s Senate confirmation hearing, it was Senator Sessions, ironically,—not yet confirmed attorney general—who questioned and encouraged Yates to be ready to defend the law and the constitution and offer independent and impartial advice to the president, despite the president’s possible unlawful views.
Sessions had asked her: “You have to watch out, because people will be asking you to do things that you just need to say no about. Do you think the Attorney General has a responsibility to say no to the president if he asks for something that’s improper? A lot of people defended the [Loretta] Lynch nomination by saying well, [then-President Obama] appoints somebody who’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?” And Yates answered:
“Senator I believe that the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General has an obligation to follow the law and the Constitution, and to give their independent legal advice to the president.”
A lot of bad dudes out there
Unfortunately, Trump doesn’t like independent advice that is incongruent to his views. Plus, as he said, he had to act quickly so that the “bad dudes” could see that the rules of immigration had changed. He tweeted: “If the ban were announced with a one week notice, the "bad" would rush into our country during that week. A lot of bad "dudes" out there!” But America has always been strong on immigration and Trump’s misleading comments, are only spreading fear and exaggerate differences. The simplistic logic of good and bad dudes is already throwing the Trump administration into chaos. On a side note, speaking of bad dudes, there’s Ollie the bobcat running loose in D.C. after escaping from the Smithsonian Zoo. Is this a metaphor of Trump’s politics, I wonder?