The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) is suing the Department of Justice (DOJ) to uncover documents related to the decision by Sally Yates, the Obama holdover who briefly served as Acting Attorney General, to ignore President Donald Trump’s first travel ban order.
In a complaint filed Wednesday, IRLI is attempting to force the DOJ to release Yates’s emails from the period surrounding her very public January 2017 refusal to obey her boss, the President of the United States. IRLI had requested the documents at the time via a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, but, according to the complaint, is yet to receive them.
In January 2017, Yates announced publicly that, in large part due to statements about a “Muslim ban” Trump made on the campaign trail, the DOJ would not defend Trump’s executive order banning travel from terror-prone majority-Muslim countries. Trump promptly fired Yates, with then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer issuing a statement saying,”Sally Yates has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. … Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.”
The stunt instantly made Yates, President Barack Obama’s deputy attorney general who served as AG while Jeff Sessions awaited confirmation, a celebrity among the political left and a symbol of the “#resistance” movement. Left-leaning journalists sprang into action, characterizing the firing, which, in effect, changed the leadership at DOJ for a few weeks while Sessions was confirmed, as an unprecedented travesty, claiming a parallel to Richard Nixon’s infamous 1974 “Saturday Night Massacre,” despite Carl Bernstein himself throwing cold water on that hysteria.
Yates later admitted under oath that her actions were partly driven by the fact she disagreed with the Trump administration’s policies. An earlier FOIA request from Judicial Watch uncovered that several DOJ officials gushed over Yates’s “resistance,” including Andrew Wiessmann, who went on to become Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s number two man in his “Russia investigation.”
Wiessmann emailed Yates to say, “I am so proud. And in awe. Thank you so much. All my deepest respects,” while his DOJ colleague U.S. Attorney Thomas Delahanty wrote to call her his “hero.”
IRLI, a pro-American immigration reform law firm, hopes to uncover more evidence of wider “resistance” coordination with their lawsuit. Specifically, IRLI had asked for communications between Yates and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), two left-wing open-borders groups that, along with others, repeatedly sued to prevent Trump’s travel ban from going into effect, beginning just as Yates was claiming her 15 minutes of fame. Those lawsuits were able to delay the travel ban orders, but were not ultimately able to stop them.
“The American people deserve a Justice Department that implements the laws as defined by the Constitution,” Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI, said in a statement accompanying the filing. “They also have the right to know if their acting attorney general was coordinating DOJ activities with groups seeking defiance of our immigration laws. Those communications are public property and should be produced.”