Update: they fired her. No foreign surveillance warrants until further notice.
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates has ordered Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments in the court challenges to Trump's ban on Muslims entering the USA.
Yates, who has a general reputation as a law-and-order hawk, is the only Senate-confirmed official at the DoJ, which also makes her the only official empowered to sign foreign surveillance warrants, which makes her hard to fire.
In theory, Yates is scheduled to be replaced very soon by Jefferson Sessions, who is scheduled for an upcoming Senate confirmation. But The ACLU and Moveon have called for Sessions' confirmation to be delayed indefinitely, until the Muslim ban is rescinded. Sessions is said to have helped draft the ban, calling his suitability as Attorney General into question.
"My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts," she said in a letter. "In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution's solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right."
"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," she wrote.
First on CNN: Justice Dept. will not defend executive order on travel restrictions
Trump Town is a Propublica/Columbia Journalism Investigations interactive database of everyone working in the Trump administration; the latest revision reveals that Trump has hired 281 former lobbyists to regulate the industries that used to sign their paychecks.
Earlier this month, we learned that one of the most enduring frustrations of Trump's presidency is that no one will take his suggestion of building a moat filled with man-eating alligators and poisonous snakes along the US border (something he's been talking up for at least 35 years!).
Ben Watson is a reporter for Defenseone, a news site that covers "US defense and National Security" who formerly served in the US Army as a public affairs officer; last week, Watson returned to the USA after an assignment in Denmark, entering the country at Dulles Airport.
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