Sally Yates is back in the news Thursday, and not for anything the Trump administration would likely celebrate. Speaking to the New York Times earlier this week, Yates opened up about her brief experience in the nascent Trump administration, and her abrupt, unceremonious departure.
“Elections have consequences,” she told The Times during one its regular TimesTalks on Tuesday, “and I think you have to expect in a change in administrations, a change in party, that there are going to be policy decisions that are made that you don’t think are a good idea.”
“What worries me more than any of that,” she continued, “is the relentless attack on democratic institutions and norms, and the impact that can have on our country not just during the term of a Trump presidency, but in the years to come as well.”
Those profound observations came on the heels of a tweet she sent Monday in response to President Trump’s latest attack on the Department of Justice.
For 27 years, I was privileged to work with the thousands of career DOJ lawyers and FBI agents who work hard every day to keep our country safe, our rights protected, and the rule of law intact. They deserve better than this. https://t.co/PORoGaCm5n
— Sally Yates (@SallyQYates) April 2, 2018
When the rotted structure that is the Trump presidency finally burns to the ground and historians examine the ashes, Sally Yates will be remembered as the one who lit the match.
Yates was an Obama appointee to the Justice Department, and she had the thankless task of serving as acting Attorney General in the days after the inauguration of President Trump while incoming AG Jeff Sessions awaited confirmation by the Senate.
It was Yates who marched over the White House six days after the inauguration to inform the President’s lawyers that newly minted National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had lied to the FBI regarding his foreign contacts with Turkey and Russia. Flynn, Russia and lying to the FBI and other government agencies would all become festering wounds of the young administration that have yet heal.
It is also Sally Yates who owns the dubious distinction as the first government official of the Trump era to be unceremoniously fired by the president. Trump sacked her four days after she told the White House counsel about Michael Flynn, ostensibly for refusing to enforce his executive orders calling for a ban on travelers from majority Muslim nations.
The sudden firing of officials throughout the government would also become a theme of the Trump presidency. Also, the courts still haven’t allowed the Muslim ban to be enforced, despite it being reworked and reissued multiple times.