Former interim Attorney General Sally Yates and GOP Senator Ted Cruz didn’t mince words on Monday during Yates’ Senate testimony on the alleged Trump-Russia collusion.
Cruz Grills Yates on the Motives of Her Ouster
The hearing got really heated when Cruz started grilling Yates on her refusal to adopt Trump’s executive order that placed a travel ban on all Muslim visitors from high-risk countries trying to enter the U.S. Cruz reminded Yates her stubbornness to enforce the ban led to her termination.
Trump indeed fired the former acting AG in January after she publicly refused to endorse the now-stalled executive order. Cruz quoted a statute that Yates allegedly violated which allows a U.S. president to ban aliens from entering the country if the entrance would be detrimental to U.S. interests.
“Would you agree that that is broad statutory authorization?”
the Texas senator asked Yates.
She agreed on that but added that an “additional provision” to the statue bars a U.S. president from issuing a travel ban based on “race, nationality, and place of birth.” That would be discriminatory, the former Obama administration official added.
She also slammed Cruz for not knowing that the provision she quoted was adopted after the statute he quoted, so her provision “trumps” the first one. She added that the main concern is not whether the travel ban was legal under the said act, but whether it was constitutional.
Yates Defends Her Stance on the Travel Ban
In response, Cruz lashed out at her, accusing her of having a partisan stance on the issue. He also quoted a document from the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel which approved the executive order as “legal” on Jan. 27. He underlined that although the OLC had determined the order was legal, Yates refused to adopt it three days later because she was concerned it wasn’t “wise or just”.
Yates corrected Cruz saying that she had doubts the order was “lawful” at the time. She explained the OLC had interpreted the order by ignoring the outside circumstances that raised questions about its constitutionality. Yates suggested the president’s actions were motivated by an “intent” to infringe Muslims’ religious freedom.
“And the intent is laid out in his statements,”
the former official added, hinting at Trump’s repeated campaign pledges to order a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslim entries in the country after he is elected.
Cruz asked the former interim AG one more question. He wondered if she had any knowledge of a similar situation in her department’s history in which an AG refused to endorse a presidential policy that had been given the green light by the OLC.
Yates replied that she doesn’t know any other similar situation but added that she was neither aware of a situation where the office was instructed not to inform the Attorney General on a specific policy until it was over.
You can watch the scathing Yates-Cruz exchange here:
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