President Donald Trump fired acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates just hours after she refused to defend a controversial immigration ban on 30 January 2017, saying that she had “betrayed” the administration:

“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,” Ms. Yates wrote in a letter to Justice Department lawyers.

The extraordinary legal standoff capped a tumultuous day in which the White House confronted an outpouring of dissent over Mr. Trump’s temporary ban on entry visas for people from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, went so far as to warn State Department officials that they should leave their jobs if they did not agree with Mr. Trump’s agenda, after State Department officials circulated a so-called dissent memo on the order.

“These career bureaucrats have a problem with it?” Mr. Spicer said. “They should either get with the program or they can go.”

Yates, who was the top Senate-confirmed justice official, was a holdover from the Obama administration, a point emphasized in a statement issued by the White House regarding her dismissal:

The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel …

Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.

President Trump’s controversial executive order temporarily bars citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. It also temporarily suspends refugee admissions and indefinitely suspends the Syrian refugees program.

Yates, a career prosecutor, has not yet commented on her termination.  She has been replaced by Dana J. Boente, a Department of Justice veteran who was until 30 January 2017 working as a U.S. attorney for the state of Virginia’s Eastern District.

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