ONE MORE SALLY Q. YATES ITEM…
Most of you know about Sally Q. Yates’ amazing stand Monday (30 January) in the face of that Executive Order (“It’s not a Muslim ban.” “Call it what you want.”). And that Trump fired her later in the day. She did not join the Justice Department, by the way, as an appointee of President Obama’s. As is often implied. She was brought in to the Justice Department while Bush was President in 1989, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Georgia. Obama appointed her Deputy Attorney General in 2015 (the second highest position in Justice). Among other duties, she reviewed 16,000 petitions for executive clemency, passing recommendations to President Obama (one of those granted clemency was Oscar Lopez Rivera). Trump & Co. asked her to stay on as Acting Attorney General pending confirmation of Sessions.
When she was fired, she was days away from retiring after 27 years with the Justice Department. Ms. Yates could have just left quietly. Instead, she put her future on the line. To stand up. Think about that. She was not the 3,457th person to walk from the Trump/Bannon regime. That’s easier. You can hide in the crowd. She was practically THE FIRST. That takes guts.
Tuesday, an extraordinary group of former U.S. Attorneys and Assistant U.S. Attorneys released a statement supporting Sally Yates. Some are Democrats, some Republicans. Some know Ms. Yates; others know her by reputation; others don’t know her at all. But they all obviously put themselves in her shoes. Knowing both the law, and the responsibility of the position. You may have seen this. I believe most people have not. Look at the statement. But more importantly, look at the names. For nearly 29 years, I covered the courts in New York. And like most reporters, you become familiar with someone’s professionalism and character. Look especially where it says “SDNY” or “EDNY” after a name. “Southern District of NY” (Manhattan, Bronx, Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, Dutchess and Sullivan counties) “Eastern District of NY” (Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Nassau and Suffolk counties).
Trump/Bannon Inc. say Yates was fired for not enforcing their Executive Order on a travel ban allegedly aimed at making America safe from “radical Islamist terrorism.” But no U.S. Attorney’s office has more experience in dealing with terrorism, perpetrated either by white Americans, “radical Islamists” or whomever than those two New York-based offices. After the first World Trade Center bombing (26 February 1993. Remember?) they and affiliated Joint Terrorist Task Force (JTTF) teams became the go-to groups for terrorist investigations across and outside America.
Two years after that Trade Center bombing, the Justice Department called in New York to track down the Oklahoma City bombers, thinking it was more “radical Islamist terrorists.” A friend, who was on that team, apprised me of their progress. He was about as Gung-Ho America First as anyone in law enforcement. And no Muslim sympathizer. Having put cuffs on suspects from 1993, he and the others were eager to nab more Muslim perpetrators. A couple of days after his first call from Oklahoma City, my guy called again, as he had every day. This time, with a very different tone in his voice. “We got him. And he’s one of us.”
I bring this up only because those prosecutors especially in New York who signed a statement in support of Sally Yates know first hand about fighting terrorism; they are the kind of professionals, like my friend, who follow the leads. Even when the conclusion is bitter.
“He’s one of us.”
These are people with integrity. Who know both the letter AND the spirit of the law. Trump Inc. better not believe in karma. These are not folks they’d want after them.