President Trump today sent an incendiary message to the highly politicized Department of Justice when he fired the Acting Attorney-General, Sally Q. Yates. Yates was the highest ranked Senate-confirmed Obama appointee remaining at Justice, and was acting as the A.G. until the Senate confirms President Trump’s nominated A.G., Jeff Sessions (R-AL). President Trump then appointed the current US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Dana Boente, to serve as acting A.G. until Sessions is confirmed.
Yates squarely inserted herself into the realm of politics on Monday when she directed lawyers at Justice not to defend the Executive Order issued by President Trump temporarily halting the US refugee program pending the introduction of new vetting procedures, citing concerns about legality and ‘an obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right’.
Yates’ display of defiance was little more than virtue-signalling posturing, and proved very short lived, as in the U.S. the A.G. is not an independent office, but rather part of the Executive arm of Government over which the President has complete control and authority. The role of the Department of Justice is to act as the legal representative of the U.S. government, and there is no established right for any appointee or employee at Justice to refuse to do so because they do not agree with the legal, political or social basis of an action taken by the government. Yates’ blather about obligations to ‘justice’ and ‘standing for what is right’ is the kind of meaningless evasion so beloved of the left when they know they are acting contrary to law but just cannot give up their privately knitted cloak of moral superiority when so doing.
Yates’ defiance cut squarely across the Office of Legal Counsel at Justice, which provides legal counsel to the White House, and often drafts executive orders and other government instruments, and which approved the Executive Order that Yates’ then refused to defend, temporarily leaving the U.S. Government without representation or defence in the constitutional challenges on foot in the Federal courts. No President can brook such a direct challenge to his authority from the Executive, and Yates must have known that her defiance of Trump could only elicit one response, although she has won the applause and admiration of progressives and the MSM for defying the President.
Trump acted decisively, promptly sacking Yates, and he gave her a well-deserved dressing down in the process, saying that she had ‘betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States’.
While the MSM love anyone putting up the finger to Trump, they simply do not see the very dangerous sting in the tail of action of this event. As government has grown in size, and sought to regulate more and more of our lives, they appoint more and more people into civil service; and the progressive left has finely honed skills in appointing only people who are ideologically simpatico, who then act as a last line of resistance when democracy delivers a change in direction. These bureaucratic crocodiles sit in taxpayer-funded offices quietly frustrating and resisting any attempt by the new government to bring about change, and it is a really insidious problem; there has been much discussion in the MSM about the Democrats fear at having ‘weaponized’ the civil service under Obama to now have it turned against them. If you are inclined to dismiss the threat, take a look at the conduct of the IRS under Obama.
While the reference to weaponization is more to the increasingly expanded powers and intrusive style of the Executive government, none of that works for you without the implanted ideological warriors making the decisions. The U.S. has some buffer against stacking of the civil service because so many of the higher positions are vacated on the election of a new president, who then has approximately 4,000 positions to fill by appointment, which at the least offers some capacity to clear out the bureaucratic landmines; however that is not the practice in places such as Australia and the UK, where heavily entrenched public servants appointed by the other side are a constant thorn.
The fracas with Yates is however yet another example of the genius of Trump’s early and blistering implementation of his mandate. There is so much happening so quickly that the outrage seekers just cannot keep up; by the time they have crafted a politically correct tweet and thought up a new hashtag, the fight has moved on. There is so much outrage in the MSM and on social media that most of us are just switching off. And a collateral benefit is that it forces some of these imbedded bureaucratic subversives to the surface, where Trump can deliver the required coup de gras.