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Trump ousts acting Attorney General Sally Yates over failure to defend immigrant ban

FILE - In this Oct. 19, 2015 file photo, Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The White House had two words to say to former acting Attorney General Sally Yates late Monday night: You’re fired.

In a tweet late Monday night, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced that Yates had been “relieved” as acting attorney general and Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, replaced her.

In a press release, White House officials said Yates “betrayed the Department of Justice” by refusing to defend President Donald Trump’s executive order in which he banned immigrants and refugees from Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

“Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration,” the release read.

Earlier on Monday, Yates directed Justice Department attorneys not to defend Trump’s controversial executive refugee and immigration ban, joining a growing group of administration officials distancing themselves from the new president’s order.

“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,” Yates wrote in a letter announcing her position. “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.”

Her directive was likely to be temporary, given that Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, will likely move to uphold the president’s policy. Sessions is awaiting Senate confirmation.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to approve Sessions’ nomination Tuesday and he could be approved by the full Senate soon after.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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