February 8, 2017

Georgians Yates and Lewis Are Thorns in Trump's Side

Georgia Report

Former deputy attorney general Sally Yates.

For a couple of months, Georgia was probably one of Donald Trump’s favorite states. He received 16 electoral votes here, a key part of the Electoral College coalition that enabled him to claim the presidency despite trailing Hillary Clinton by nearly three million popular votes. Trump’s gratitude could be seen in his selection of two Georgians, Congressman Tom Price of Roswell and former Gov. Sonny Perdue, for appointments to his cabinet.

Recent events may be causing Trump to reconsider his feelings towards our state.

Just before Trump was sworn into office, Congressman John Lewis said he would boycott the inauguration and questioned the legitimacy of Trump’s election. An outraged Trump fired back with a series of tweets denouncing Lewis.

“Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results,” Trump tweeted.

A week later, another Washington figure with a Georgia background was doing battle with Trump: Sally Yates, the acting attorney general. Yates was temporarily serving as head of the justice department until a new attorney general could be confirmed. She instructed the department’s lawyers not to defend in court Trump’s controversial executive order banning Muslim immigrants.

"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," Yates wrote. "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."

Trump was even more outraged by this affront to his authority. Within hours, he had fired Yates. “The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States,” the White House said. “Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.”

It’s easy to brush aside Lewis’ statements about Trump as sour grapes from a member of the party that lost the presidential election. It’s a little harder to ignore Yates’ comments.

When she was a federal prosecutor in Georgia, Yates sent to prison Atlanta’s corrupt Democratic mayor, Bill Campbell. Lewis opposed the decision to appoint Yates as the U.S. Attorney in Atlanta because she had prosecuted Campbell.

When President Obama named Yates the deputy attorney general in 2015, both of Georgia’s Republican senators voted to confirm her. "She is fair; she is smart; she is intelligent," Sen. Johnny Isakson said at Yates’ confirmation. "Sally Quillian Yates is a great Georgian and will be a great deputy U.S. attorney general of the United States of America."

Yates’ opinion about the legality of Trump’s immigration order is also being supported by federal judges across the country. The most far-reaching of these judicial rulings, which is national in its scope, was issued by federal Judge James Robart of Seattle, a George W. Bush appointee.

In his hearing on the executive order, Robart noted that since the terrorist attacks of 2001, no attacks had been carried out on U.S. soil by individuals from the seven countries specified in Trump’s travel ban. For Trump's order to be constitutional, Robart said, it had to be "based in fact, as opposed to fiction."

We have seen that Trump is a person who hates to be contradicted by anyone. He is a dominant personality who demands that everyone else submit to his will. In the first two weeks of his administration, he has been confronted by two Georgians who disagreed with him publicly. You have to think he will exact some kind of revenge against the state. What will it be?