New acting AG orders Justice to 'do our sworn duty'
WASHINGTON (AP) -
Acting Attorney General Dana Boente is ordering the Justice Department to "do our sworn duty" and defend President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees.
Boente was named to the job Monday night after Trump fired Sally Yates, a Democratic appointee who had publicly questioned the constitutionality of the executive order and directed Justice Department attorneys not to defend it in court. Yates said she was not convinced it was lawful or consistent with the agency's obligation "to stand for what is right."
Longtime federal prosecutor Boente was quickly named as Yates' replacement and was sworn in privately late Monday.
Boente says in a statement issued by the Justice Department that Trump's executive order is "both lawful on its face and properly drafted."
The House Judiciary Committee is confirming that committee staff worked with Trump administration officials as they drafted an executive order temporarily halting the nation's refugee program.
A committee aide says some committee staff offered policy expertise to the Trump transition team about immigration law, but emphasizes that the Trump administration is responsible for final policy decisions, rollout and implementation.
The committee statement late Monday confirms some elements of a report in Politico which also said the staffers were required to sign non-disclosure agreements, which the committee did not comment on.
The work by the committee staffers took place without the knowledge of House GOP leaders, who themselves had no involvement in writing the order and little awareness of its contents.
Dana Boente has been sworn in as acting attorney general after Donald Trump fired Sally Yates for refusing to enforce his travel ban.
White House spokesman Michael Short says Boente was sworn in around 9 p.m. Monday.
The hastily arranged ceremony came after Trump swiftly fired Boente's predecessor for instructing Justice Department lawyers to stop defending Trump's travel and refugee ban.
Reporters and news photographers were not invited to witness the ceremony.
The White House says in a statement that Yates had "betrayed the Department of Justice" by refusing to enforce Trump's order.
Boente has been serving as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
He's expected to serve until Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump's pick for the position, is confirmed by the Senate.
President Donald Trump has fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she announced she would not defend his controversial immigration order.
He is naming Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to serve in her place.
The White House press office says in a statement Monday that Yates "has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States."
The statement calls Yates an Obama administration appointee "who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration."
Trump's order from Friday temporarily suspends the U.S. refugee program and bars immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries.
Trump has picked Sen. Jeff Sessions to lead the Justice Department, but he has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.
President Donald Trump is lashing out at Democrats after the acting attorney general announced she would not defend his controversial immigration order.
Trump in a tweet accuses Democrats of "delaying my cabinet picks for purely political reasons." He says, "They have nothing going but to obstruct. Now have an Obama A.G."
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, a Democratic appointee, directed Justice Department attorneys Monday not to defend Trump's controversial executive refugee and immigration ban.
Yates said she was not convinced the order was lawful.
Yates' directive is temporary, given that Trump's pick for attorney general will likely move to uphold the president's policy. Sen. Jeff Sessions is awaiting Senate confirmation.
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