Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates became an unexpected hero of "the resistance" when she refused to defend President Trump's executive order banning travelers from majority Muslim countries in January. Her decision promptly got her fired: Yates "betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order," Trump wrote in his announcement.
For Yates, the decision was not an easy one, especially as a 27-year veteran of the Justice Department, The New Yorker writes. "I didn't want to end my service with the Department of Justice by being fired," she explained. "Of course, I was temporary — I understand that. But, after 27 years, that's not how I expected it to end."
But after realizing there was no way she could defend the order, Yates knew her fate was sealed:
Yates [...] wrote a statement, in which she concluded, "For as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so."
She called the senior Trump appointee into her office and handed him a copy. As he read it, he thought, "Oh, my God, the President's gonna fire you for this."
The statement was sent to thousands of department employees around the country. About four hours later, at around 9 p.m., [White House counsel] Don McGahn's office asked the senior Trump appointee to deliver a letter to Yates, notifying her that she had been fired. He said a prayer, and walked down the hall.
"Madam Attorney General, I have a memorandum for you from the White House that I've been asked to deliver," he said.
Yates read the letter, and he said, "Ma'am, thank you for all your service."
"Thank you," she replied. "I understand." [The New Yorker]