Transcript: Sen. Jeff Sessions’s advice to Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates on when to say no to the president

Partial transcript of Sen. Jeff Sessions’s (R-Alabama) advice to Sally Yates on when to say no to the president at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on March 24, 2015. Yates was fired by President Donald Trump on Jan. 30, 2017 for refusing to defend his executive order banning refugees and valid visa holders from several majority Muslim countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia) from entering the United States. Sessions is Trump’s nominee for Attorney General.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates:
…But if I’m going to be doing battle with anybody, I want to make sure I have the law and the facts and the precedent behind me to be able to give a reasoned judgment. And if I’m in a discussion where people have different views, I want to make sure I’ve got what I need to back up my views.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama):
Well, you have to watch out because people will be asking you to do things that you just need to say “no” about. Do you think the Attorney General General has a responsibility to say “no” to the president if he asks for something that’s improper?

A lot of people have defended the [Loretta] Lynch nomination, for example, by saying, “Well, he appoints somebody who’s going to execute his views. What’s wrong with that?”

But if the views the president wants to execute are unlawful, should the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General say “no”?

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates:
Senator, I believe that the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General has an obligation to follow the law and the Constitution and to give their independent legal advice to the president.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama):
Does the Office of Legal Counsel makes many of these opinions that impact policy? Does it report through the Deputy’s office or directly to the Attorney General?

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates:
Well, when you look at the org chart, the Office of Legal Counsel reports to the Deputy’s office. But it’s important that the Office of Legal Counsel also be independent because federal agencies across our government regularly come to the Office of Legal Counsel seeking advice and guidance about what is permissible and what isn’t.

It’s critically important that the OLC advice – the Office of Legal Counsel advice – be just that and not be advocacy…

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One Comment on “Transcript: Sen. Jeff Sessions’s advice to Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates on when to say no to the president

  1. Pingback: Trump fires Acting Attorney General Sally Yates for questioning legality of refugee & Muslim ban | What The Folly?!