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Trump Fires Acting Attorney General (nytimes.com)
424 points by davesque on Jan 31, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 460 comments



If I understand it right this is the first time an AG has been relieved for purely political reasons. If the AG doesn't think it's likely they'll win a defense, that usually doesn't cause an issue.

As an edit: it probably wouldn't have been reasonable for her to put up an intentionally weak case, but if the order isn't able to stand up in court, then what?

The major worry for me is Trump's seeking to punish anyone who shows disloyalty. If Trump thinks he can have something done, I worry he'll demand people below him do so, or replace them with someone properly spineless.


Arguably not the first time, if you count Nixon firing his Attorney General and then Deputy Attorney General because they wouldn't fire the Watergate prosecutor.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturday_Night_Massacre

Maybe not the best precedent.


It is expected that a new President will replace the Attorney General, and not at all uncommon for a new President to replace large portion of the entire DoJ staff. These are political appointments!

Clinton famously fired all 93 U.S. Attorneys when he took office.

As a recent Obama appointee as Deputy, Yates was running on fumes anyway. There was no way she was going to survive past the confirmation of Sessions (or whoever it winds up being). She just decided to go out with some political grandstanding, which I'm sure will help her find a new job.


Clinton replaced the US Attorneys after an election on a staggered schedule as did Reagan. Bush fired many in 2007 for strictly tactical partisan reasons.

http://articles.latimes.com/2007/mar/23/nation/na-talking23


Speaking of Sessions, his belief is that the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General should say "no" when asked to do something that they think is improper. When he questioned Yates during her confirmation hearing he specifically brought this up.


Without reviewing the statements in question, I would guess that he also understands that the Attorney General would likely resign or be fired in such a situation. How else do you imagine that it could possibly work? Do you think that any President would do otherwise? Especially when the acting A.G. was a holdover from a previous administration who was going to be out the door in a couple of days anyway?


That's not really where the consequences stop flowing though. Yes, the President has a right to fire an AG that refuses to implement a President's policy. At the same time, the public may draw certain inferences from that decision. If a big oil company fired its top lawyer for refusing to do something she though violated environmental laws, very reasonable inferences could be made about the leadership.

The US Attorney thing under Clinton is totally different. Nobody made a peep when Trump dismissed the previous AG. It is understood that these political appointees will be replaced as a matter of course. This criticism is in response to him dismissing Yates after asking her to stay on board as acting AG, in response to her exercising her legal judgment.


Also it seems everyone here is ignoring the fact that the WH wrote this ignorant EO without talking to the OLC, has already gone 0/5 in the court challenges thus far. But still fired her for not doing his bidding.


Yate's letter of resignation specificall mentions that the OLC vetted the EO as legal when considered on it's own.


Yates didn't resign. She was fired.


The criticism also hinges on the rather unbelievably public statement of "betrayal", particularly as that dovetails with Spicer's statement that people should "get with the program or get out". This makes political purge a rather inevitable conclusion, and we aren't even 2 weeks in.


In that field very low level jobs are entirely professional and very high level jobs are entirely political, which makes the oil lawyer analogy invalid. There is no professional insight in a political act and vice versa.

In this specific example she made a highly public political act containing no professional content, naturally that results in firing.


Even low level federal officials have an independent duty not to violate peoples' constitutional rights. They can be held personally liable for violating clearly established constitutional law, and following administration policy is not a defense. Usually the "clearly established" part protects the low level folks, but here you could see CBP line agents being held personally liable for excluding green card holders.

On top of that, the AG has additional obligations as an attorney. An attorney must sign her name to every legal argument she makes to the court. She may not permit a non-attorney to override her legal judgment. Here, the AG did not hold a press release discussing the politics of immigration. She told her subordinates not to make legal arguments defending the order--arguments she would have had to sign her name to. It is absolutely an exercise of professional judgment, not policymaking.

Of course Trump can fire her for any reason. But the public is also entitled to draw reasonable inferences from those actions.


Indeed - there are limits to the "only following orders" defense.

rayiner, I'm curious what you think about Dershowitz' argument that she should have resigned?

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/the-administration/317...


I think her legal objection was overbroad, in that there is some subset of the order that could have been defended in good faith. And, in general, the right thing for a lawyer to do when she cannot proceed on ethical grounds is to resign quietly so as to not prejudice the client.

But I think Dershowitz ignores crucial situational context. He says: "A responsible attorney general would seek to analyze these complex issues before jumping into the political fire with a blanket refusal to defend any part of the order." That's fine and good in theory, but this order was implemented over a weekend with apparently no vetting by the DOJ. It was almost certainly unconstitutional as applied in many situations. And Yates would have to send attorneys into courts to defend the order right now. She did not have the luxury of taking time to figure out what "parts of [the order] are legally defensible."

Remember, contemporaneously with firing Yates, the White House did a 180 on one of the key legal interpretations: that the order applied to green card holders. You do not go into court and advance a legal argument, and then tell the court sometime later "oh, now that we have had a chance to actually analyze these complex legal issues, we were wrong on A, B, and C." As a supervising lawyer, Yates could not tell her subordinates "defend the order for now, but we may have to walk some of this stuff back once we figure out what is actually legal."


Dershowitz needs to buy his soul back from Satan and stop supporting the Trump administration.


If they're going to be out the door in a couple of days anyway, why do anything?


It's political grandstanding, nothing more. The DOJ reviewed the executive order and found it legal.

Yates thought it would be better to go out with a bang than a whimper.

I'm sure the DNC will find her a nice comfy job after this.


Do you have a source for that claim? Because everything I read indicates that there was little to no legal review of the executive order. In fact, given that the Attorney General would sign of that review (my understanding at least), it seems extremely unlikely that there was one.


From the analyses i've read, it's inferred from this part of Yates' statement.

She called out her role as different to explain why she doesn't agree with the OLC that it's legal.

My role is different from that of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), which, through administrations of both parties, has reviewed Executive Orders for form and legality before they are issued. OLC’s review is limited to the narrow question of whether, in OLC’s view, a proposed Executive Order is lawful on its face and properly drafted.


Right, so if I (and many reporters with much experience covering executive orders) read this correctly it was not vetted by the DOJ. It had the correct "formatting" of an executive order, but no check was performed by the OLC on whether it violates standing law.

I mean the DHS and other involved departments were also not consulted, so the idea that the DOJ got to weigh in on the legality is pretty strange/implausble.


Really? I read that as "in case you're wondering why I'm opposing it and the OLC didn't, this is..."


I guess it hinges on the scope of the "form and legality" review. There is an obvious conflict with the law that bans immigration rules based on country of origin. Did the OLC weigh that (or even constitutionality)? Or merely whether the preceding law that Trump's order cites, authorizes him to give the executive order?

I assumed the latter. We'll soon see how the legality of the order plays out in the courts anyway.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/opinion/trumps-immigratio...

Edit: Either way, my original blanket assumption that it had just not been looked at by the DOJ at all is clearly false as the OLC is a part of the DOJ.


I wouldn't discount this as saying the right answer because you know it is what you should say. Trumps appointees and integrity don't exactly go together.


Ignoring whether I agree or not with the order, firing the AAG made sense. Here's why:

#1 - The AG is THE person to defend the administration in court, and even argues personally on behalf of administrations in front of the Supreme Court. Her duty is to defend the Administration's position (even if she personally disagrees with it). As wikipedia puts it (abbreviated for space here): "The United States Attorney General (A.G.) .... is the chief law enforcement officer and chief lawyer of the United States government." But I suggest reading here for a very good overview: https://www.justice.gov/about

#1a (to highlight this specifically: AGs determine whether to prosecute, not whether to defend.

#2 - The courtroom is the place to determine if the order is legal or not. From what I understand, Congress can also override this.

#3 - There is no (publicly known) communication between the AAG and the President regarding her stance. From what I can tell, she contradicted his order without informing him. Note that he has no legal requirement to inform her, but she does to inform him (being that the President is the superior to an AG).

#4 - Presidents have the right to fire US Attorneys without any reason. And they use it often. Every President in recent memory has done so.

#5 - The order affected non-citizens who are outside the country. The law and legal cases tend to give wide latitude to the executive branch on actions outside the country.

Again, I say this regardless of whether or not I like the order. I will say this - at a minimum, he should have consulted with someone to minimize some of the issues that this order faces. That fact that he apparently did not even do that is astonishing.


The AG enforces and defends the Constitution, not the whims of a POTUS. Trump is quickly trying to turn the USG into yes men. Sean Spicer just said minutes ago in his Press Conference that her firing is pretty much a warning shot that if you don't agree with his views, no matter how you think the law stands you should step up or ship out.

That's not how Democracy works and Trump is quickly trying to change that and it is a terrible thing.


Well, upon that there is some disagreement. I'll take this quote from Jonathan Adler (who is Director of the Center for Business Law & Regulation at Case Western Reserve University ):

"To the contrary, Yates claims she is ordering the Justice Department not to defend the executive order because it is not 'wise or just.' This is quite significant. I am not aware of any instance in which the Justice Department has refused to defend a presumptively lawful executive action on this basis."

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/201...


> To the contrary, Yates claims she is ordering the Justice Department not to defend the executive order because it is not 'wise or just.' This is quite significant. I am not aware of any instance in which the Justice Department has refused to defend a presumptively lawful executive action on this basis.

In the usual course, the DoJ would pre-vet an E.O. and concerns about wisdom and justice, and particularly, as regards the former, issues of the degree to which defending the E.O. would require the DoJ to take positions that the DoJ has taken or would otherwise take defending other executive actions, and the potential adverse precedent (for public and even specifically executive branch interests) that would be set were courts to accept arguments the DoJ would make defending the E.O. would be addressed, weighed, and resolved (possibly with changes to the E.O. and/or changes to strategy in other pending cases) before the E.O. was issued.

The lack of consultation within the Executive Branch that, among others in other contexts, Senators McCain and Graham (both Republicans) called out, prevented that from occurring in advance, which meant those considerations would have to be weighed after-the -fact. But still before any defense could be prudently mounted.


Trump & co. have gone 0/5 in the federal lawsuits that have been brought already stating that this is unconstitutional.


I am not American, but I believe your first point to be incorrect. The AG is supposed to defend the constitution (including from the president). In her confirmation hearing in 2015, senator Jeff Sessions, who is to take her place asked her:

"Do you think the attorney general has a responsibility to say no to the president if he asks for something that's improper...?"

Ms Yates replied: "I believe 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."

She was confirmed 84-12 so it seems that they were happy with the response. I would also note that any lawyer who is tasked to defend you also has an obligation to inform the client of poor chance of success, in this case the AG not only thought the chance of success was poor but it was unconstitutional also.


"defend the constitution" and "follow the constitution" are two completely different things.


Perhaps uphold would be a better word.


>to give their independent legal advice to the president.

In private, and when he tells you that you're to carry out his wishes- since you're serving at his pleasure, then you go and do your job or you resign.

If you picked a public fight with your boss in the middle of the scrum and then refused to do what he wanted when you were overruled- how long would you last?

Also- let's not forget that Office of Legal Council had already said that it's perfectly Constitutional and legal.


>The major worry for me is Trump's seeking to punish anyone who shows disloyalty.

This shouldn't be surprising nor worrying. This is how hierarchical leadership works and it's fully expected that anyone under the President may be forced to do whatever the President wants. It's the entire reason there are 2 other branches of government.


Hierarchical leadership doesn't work like that with attorneys. If Yates couldn't come up with a good faith argument for the legality of the order, she wasn't allowed to go into court and defend it, regardless of what her boss said. She could have countermanded the order and accepted the consequences (which she did), or she could have resigned.

Whether the order rises to that level I'm not sure. I think there are definitely some instances in how the order was applied that wouldn't have been defensible if pursued further. For example, I haven't heard a single cogent argument that it's legal to exclude permanent residents without individualized process.


I was going to comment something along those lines.

A business might hire an attorney, but they generally listen when they say a policy has shaky legal ground, if any at all. The response isn't generally to fire the lawyer and find one that agrees.


The White House has its own office of legal counsel which has stated the order is legal. The AG ignored the legality of the order when making the decisions that led to firing.


A law or executive action can be illegal on its face, or as illegal applied. OLC reviews executive orders before they are signed. The AG generally has to defend the orders in court, as applied. Depending on what happens on the ground, the AG can be stuck defending actions the OLC would not have signed off on. And in any case, when the AG is in court its her signature on the papers. If the judge doesn't think her interpretation is made in good faith, the judge doesn't care what OLC said.

For example (and this is speculation), I have doubts that the OLC signed off on excluding permanent residents without individualized process. The order does not, by its terms, apply to permanent residents. But that is how CBP interpreted it for three days, and the White House reversed that position only last night. The AG would have to go into court and defend CBP's interpretation, and I don't think it is defensible. Indeed, it's so indefensible that I think there is a decent chance individual CBP agents will be held personally liable for Constitutional violations once this all plays out.


That makes sense. Thank you for clarifying that part of the process.


It's worth noting that the Office of Legal Counsel 1) is responsible for producing wild contortions of logic to produce anything resembling a legal defense of any of a president's chosen actions (e.g. torture), and 2) is actually part of the Department of Justice and therefore reports to the attorney general.


> The AG ignored the legality of the order

Just because legal counsel says its legal does not mean it is legal, or that the AG "ignored its legality". Different attorneys will have different frameworks and theories on whether it will hold up in court.


"Although the attorney general advises the president, the basic authority of the office is derived from Congress and the functions of the office are subject to congressional control. In addition, the attorney general is a member of the bar and therefore an officer of the court subject to the directives of the judicial branch."

-http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Attorney+Gener...


What I find worrying is she ordered that the DOJ not support the President without any clear conviction that the law was unconstitutional, it smelled of an entirely politically motivated action not grounded in US law.


The decision to prosecute a defendant or not (or defend a statute, or not) is at the discretion of the prosecutor, barring some sort of statutory requirement.

The President isn't a king, whose orders are to be followed regardless of the Constitution or prevailing law.

Both the President and the AG serve at the pleasure of the People of the United States, and Trump is about to find that out the hard way.


Both the President and the AG serve at the pleasure of the People of the United States, and Trump is about to find that out the hard way.

Trump has the support of roughly half of the country.

Regardless of how loud the opposition is, don't confuse their passion for widespread support.


Trump will find that that support dwindles day by day. The country has always been split roughly down the middle between conservatives and liberals, and liberals are generally united against Trump.

What happens when his conservative base starts dwindling as he institutes more and more measures which run counter to both conscience and conservative principles?


> Trump will find that that support dwindles day by day.

Irrelevant. Trump was elected, he was appointed a couple of weeks ago, and he is in charge.

No one invented "support dwindles" comments when Obana's popularity was scraping rock bottom.

Furthermore, while Trump was in fact elected in a democratic election, the Attourney General was not. The Attourney General has no standing to deny a lawful order by the president.


> No one invented "support dwindles" comments when Obana's popularity was scraping rock bottom.

Yes, they did. I mean, just googling "Obama support dwindles" falsifies that claim (even if a lot of the early hits are about Clinton in the last election); there's quite a lot from the right doing just what you claim no one did, foing back to at least 2010 in what I get on the first two pages of results.


Slightly less than half the country _that voted_* this past election. That's not close to half the country


The part of the country that votes is the only one of any consequence to any elected official.


> Trump has the support of roughly half of the country

Per the latest Gallup daily tracking, 51% disapprove, 43% approve, and the quickest President to majority disapproval in the history of the tracking poll.


The same polls that predicted Hillary's win?

I'm not buying it.


> The same polls that predicted Hillary's win Nope; one because the Gallup daily Presidential approval tracking poll is not an election poll; two because polls don't predict anything, models that use polling data as an input do.

> I'm not buying it.

Facts remain facts regardless of whether they are convenient to your preferred team.


Hilary did win. The popular vote. Which is really what most of the polls were tracking. 80,000 votes out of 130,000,000+ swung the EC. Aside from holding an actual election, no poll can get the margin of error down to that level. The polls were not wrong. They were polls.


History can't be retconned this quickly.

The polls were done state by state and showed Hillary with a substantial electoral college advantage over Trump.

These poll results weren't about reporting on the feelings of the electorate, they were about trying to influence them.


I thought the FBI director recommends to the AG whether to pursue charges, no?


Even in such a case, the AG should be free to ignore the recommendation and say "sure, we've got enough evidence, but we're not going to pursue it". For example, if the charge is minor enough, or if the optics of it look bad, or the person in question were already being prosecuted by a different office, they could tell the FBI Director they weren't going to bother, and then go hold a press conference to explain why (so that the FBI Director doesn't beat you to the press to say "we've got them dead to rights and they won't prosecute for [X] reasons!").


Except that it isn't a law. It's an executive order. The President isn't a dictator and doesn't get to rule any department by decree. If the secretary feels that the order is illegal, they can refuse to follow it, and get forced to resign, but then the President would still need to find someone else to follow the order.


The executive order was backed by the law though. The President does have the powers he exercised, at least, near as I can tell from the US Code cited in the order. I don't necessarily like the order, or how it was carried out, but I'm not sure her actions were justified on the grounds she cited.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/27/execu... and https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/8/chapter-12/subchap...


Aren't many of the objections to the order based on constitutional concerns like depriving people of due process? That would override anything in the US Code.


Get real. The objections to the order are based exclusively on whether there's an (R) or a (D) next to the President's name. Nothing more. Incredible to see how many people suddenly "care" about the Constitution after 8 years of Obama wiping his feet on it.


Maybe because George W. Bush didn't pull anything like this and he was President during 9/11? You can't claim that the "D" is just as bad as "R" and then forget about every other President from both parties who didn't go about indiscriminately banning people with Permanent Resident status from entering the country.

And I'll take a Law Professor over a reality TV star when it comes to protecting the Constitution and running the government while obeying the law.


Just to clarify, are you an (R) who is OK with this stuff? Or are you just more upset about consistency than rights abuses?


Why, are you confused about whether to downvote me? I don't see (a) why it should matter or (b) that it's any of your business... The fact that you need to know the letter next to my name to evaluate my statement is exactly what is wrong with America.


Because if you imagine yourself to be above the fray and are merely attacking me based on consistency, then my reply would involve asking you what you want (given that we can't go back in time and start fighting Obama harder) and why you're more concerned about consistency than abuses. If you're a Trump supporter, then I'd just go straight to pointing out how much worse Trump's actions are in this department.


What do I want? I'd love for the (D)s to be way less fucking smug and sanctimonious for starters. Less hypocritical would be nice too, but let's stay within the realm of the conceivable... As for what to do now, well, figure it out yourself; the people in the crowd who actually care about civil liberties are too busy enjoying the sweet, sweet liberal tears to do anything for a few more weeks at least.


"the people in the crowd who actually care about civil liberties are too busy enjoying the sweet, sweet liberal tears to do anything for a few more weeks at least."

This is a contradiction. If you'd rather enjoy the defeat of your enemies, you don't actually care about civil liberties.

This is what's actually wrong with America: the fact that politics has devolved into a simple team sport, where the only goal is to win and have the other team lose.


No, no, you weren't paying attention. The (D)s aren't our enemies; they're the smug hypocrites who are or will soon be completely inconsequential in American politics, and who (to our immense amusement) haven't accepted this yet. I didn't say we derive pleasure from your loss, only your tears. The tears of the right would have been just as sweet if they were the sort to throw tantrums, which, thankfully, they're not.

Edit: Also, back to, er, polite discourse, I don't believe the state of civil liberties has significantly changed in the past, what, 11 days. I know you won't accept that thanks to fake-news-ordered outrage, but it's true. So you mistake my non reaction to a non event for apathy, which it's not.


What nonsense. You derive pleasure not from their loss, but from their tears? Whatever helps you sleep at night, I guess, but it sure looks silly when stated in public.


That's interesting. I totally see this as a valid argument (and I don't disagree that this might be politically motivated on the judge's part). However, it seems to me that

>any clear conviction that the law was unconstitutional

is the wrong way of going about it. I would think you'd want to be pretty darn sure that the actions you were carrying out were constitutional before doing them. That is, I'd much rather people not enforce a law that might be unconstitutional, but isn't, than enforce a law that is unconstitutional. Err on the side of caution.


Unfortunately it never actually works that way, and we have to fight tooth and nail in courts to overturn unconstitutional laws.


She said that she felt the order was illegal. Should she follow orders and obey something she thinks is illegal?


If she is unable to faithfully discharge her duty to execute U.S. law, she should resign. She offers no argument to support her claim that the order was not lawful, other than her self-evident personal disagreement.

Do you know of a credible legal argument that the president is not allowed to issue instructions to the Department of Homeland Security via executive order? Ms. Yates apparently does, but she doesn't wish to share. If there is such an argument, why would it apply to President Trump's EO tightening immigration enforcement but not President Obama's EOs loosening it?

There is nothing in Trump's EO that singles anyone out by religious affiliation or background. The EO uses a list of countries that the previous administration had already highlighted as high-risk. The EO imposes a temporary ban only, for the explicit purpose of reviewing the processes used to grant visas to nationals of those high-risk countries. I'm really not seeing anything blatantly improper or illegal here.

Where does the chief law enforcement officer's obligation to enforce the law as enacted by the people of the United States cave to his/her personal proclivities or opinions about that law? It is the duty of the AG to execute the laws as written. If we allow the AG to ignore the laws we set up based on matters of personal opinion, isn't that a large subversion of the democratic process?

Principled stands like this should truly be exceptional, and clearly and obviously justified. If you're getting into minutia about whether something may or may not be legal, we've set up a system of judges whose role is to make these decisions. In the meantime, it is the DoJ's duty to enforce the law.

Prosecutorial discretion refers specifically to prosecuting someone under the law. It does not apply to the government's own lawyers refusing to advocate for or defend the government's position in hearings about the very legality of the Orders issued -- this leaves the administration without fair representation and stands only to prolong the litigation process.

If Ms. Yates could not in good conscience fulfill the duties of her position, the appropriate course of action is resignation. If she refuses to take this course, it is the president's responsibility to relieve her and install someone who is willing to uphold the laws that the people of the United States have installed through their duly elected representatives and executives (including the president).


> There is nothing in Trump's EO that singles anyone out by religious affiliation or background.

This is false. It has explicit exceptions for "religious minorities".

Wikipedia: "After the resumption of USRAP, refugee applications will be prioritized based on religion-based persecutions only in the case that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in that country."


" It has explicit exceptions for "religious minorities"."

That doesn't make his EO illegal, and doesn't contradict the commenters statement.

The exception for religious minorities is clear: they are targeted in genocidal acts.

Christians, Yazidis and others face acutely disproportionate and targeted violence because of their religion - so in this case, it's warranted.

The Yazidis in particular, faced outright genocide - ISIS came for them, killed the men, took the women and children into slavery, those that could flee, fled.

The are a persecuted minority group, and I don't think anyone would question the need there.

Governments around the world including the US make special arrangements for persecuted minority groups - I don't think anyone has a problem with this.


> doesn't contradict the commenters statement.

Yes, it does. The executive order "singles people out" based on their religion.

It doesn't matter what the motive is (and I think your take on the motive is naive, but that's beside the point).


Western governments around the world make special considerations for persecuted minorities all the time. That is 'singling out' usually on the basis of ethnicity or religion, sometimes sexual orientation.


Yes, you're correct.

My language was imprecise in that I was referring specifically to the orders limiting entry of foreign nationals, and also specifically referring to singling out specific religious affiliations rather than religious background as a general principle.

But yes, the order does also contain an instruction to prioritize refugees seeking asylum from generalized religious persecution, and states that the refugee's claim should only be prioritized if they are legitimately a religious minority (which seems more like an implicit implementation detail). That section of the order is completely unrelated to the travel ban on foreign nationals.

I appreciate the correction and I will attempt to keep the language precise moving forward.

One other note, it would be best to link to primary sources next time. The full text of the EO is available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/27/execu....


> and states that the refugee's claim should only be prioritized if they are legitimately a religious minority

WTF does religion-based persecution have to do with "legitimately [being] a religious minority"?

You are aware that people are persecuted for questioning doctrine of the religion that they nominally belong to? That people are persecuted for being gay on religious grounds, even if it's their own religion?

If you seriously believe what you wrote, you simply fell for the superficial literal meaning of the words. The actual, and quite obviously intentional, effect of banning entry from muslim-majority countries and then making exceptions based on belonging to a minority religion is discrimination based on religion.


>WTF does religion-based persecution have to do with "legitimately [being] a religious minority"?

Because it's an attempt to illegitimately get prioritized refugee status if they learn they can just claim to be religiously oppressed? Wouldn't even a basic vetting verify their claim of religious oppression before granting asylum based on it, and wouldn't a religious minority status be important to credibly claiming persecution? A "religious minority" is not necessarily non-Muslim; it could refer to a Shia Muslim in a predominantly Sunni area or vice-versa, or some type of fringe / modernist Islamic interpretation. The point is confirming that actual religious persecution is going on and not that someone found a shortcut.


I would say that while the statement is false, context is required.

America has historically given priority to immigrants that are victim to religion-based persecution. We are, after all, a nation founded by settlers seeking freedom from religious prosecution from a country in which they were the minority.


I'd say the context just makes it worse, since it would have been so easy to word it in an unobjectionable way. Give exceptions for people suffering from religious persecution, and you're all set.


It isn't a law, it's an executive order. If it was something passed by Congress, I would agree with your point, but it is not. So it is down to the acting attorney general's judgement on whether to defend the order.


While it is true that EOs are not statutes enacted by Congress, they are usually binding law. As a layman, I'm not qualified to argue the matter in detail, but it's obtuse to pretend otherwise. EOs with the force of law are not new and have well-established precedent. This appears to be a good overview. [0]

[0] http://www.yalelawjournal.org/note/executive-orders-in-court


The orders only have the force of law if they are based in laws already passed by Congress. If the order conflicts with these laws or the Constitution, it's the order that gets ignored, not the laws.

The law passed by Congress in this case states that the immigration department is not allowed to discriminate based by country of origin. The Constitution also states that people are required to have due process before their rights are taken away. If the acting attorney general felt that the order conflicted with these two, as she clearly did, then it was the executive order that should get ignored.

Now I will agree that there is a political dimension to this, especially since the current nominee for Attorney General is going through confirmation hearings and her actions make sure that this will come up in those hearings. But the President could have consulted with Congress, and didn't. He could have gone through Homeland Security and didn't. He could have waited until his nominee of choice was confirmed and consulted them, but didn't. So there is alot of this that is backlash against the lack of due process and the attempt to run the government like a corporation, which is against the law itself.


I think the law the president is relying on is 8 USC §1182(f) which states in part:

"Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate."


>The orders only have the force of law if they are based in laws already passed by Congress. If the order conflicts with these laws or the Constitution, it's the order that gets ignored, not the laws.

Yes, I agree. It's the judiciary's role to interpret the law and decide whether there is a conflict. It is true that the AG has an oath to uphold the Constitution, including the elements of the Constitution that provide for a duly elected president to act in a capacity as chief executive. Is Ms. Yates more true to her oath to uphold the Constitution when she actively seeks to frustrate the ability of that chief executive to have his orders well-researched and well-defended by the DoJ, or when she provides for that opportunity?

>The law passed by Congress in this case states that the immigration department is not allowed to discriminate based by country of origin.

This is a minor, nuanced legal dispute that the judiciary must decide. It's not the acting AG's role to prevent the DoJ from preparing a counterargument based on her personal opinions about the potential outcome of such an action.

>The Constitution also states that people are required to have due process before their rights are taken away.

a) Do foreign nationals who have not yet been granted access to the United States have rights under the U.S. Constitution?

b) If so, are the administration's established policies on admission into the U.S., visa issuance, and other long-established intricacies of immigration law consistently applied somehow not due process?

Neither of your statements appear to challenge the President's authority to suspend visas by EO.

>If the acting attorney general felt that the order conflicted with these two, as she clearly did, then it was the executive order that should get ignored.

No, if the acting attorney general felt strongly that this EO violated statutory requirements imposed by Congress, she should resign and get involved in an effort to challenge it, not prevent the DoJ from developing a fair argument for the president's position to present to the judiciary.

If she truly felt it violated the Constitution to a degree that exceeds the violation in the DoJ/AG ignoring the Constitutionally-installed president's instructions and depriving him of the ability to develop a cogent legal argument in support of his position, then you're right, she should have done what she did. But at this juncture, barring a major insight or revelation, there does not appear to be an inherent, significant, or major Constitutional violation in President Trump's order, and Ms. Yates has yet to help identify one. Her conduct fails tests of both reasonability and good faith.

>But the President could have consulted with Congress, and didn't.

It doesn't seem typical for presidents to seek to install such instructions by legislative action. President Obama issued several EOs of a similar nature while Ms. Yates was present at the DoJ. Why did she not resign then?

>He could have gone through Homeland Security and didn't.

This is him "going through Homeland Security". Are you really suggesting it would've been better if he had just privately issued these directions through the chain of command, instead of publicly issuing an EO that everyone can see?

>He could have waited until his nominee of choice was confirmed and consulted them, but didn't.

Is there a reason he should've done that? This just seems like something that would've avoided Ms. Yates's publicity stunt, not something that has any actual relevance to policy. Trump promised this action repeatedly on the campaign trail. Why should he delay it just because Congress is dragging its feet on the nomination process?

>So there is alot of this that is backlash against the lack of due process and the attempt to run the government like a corporation, which is against the law itself.

It seems that all "due process" is being fulfilled. It doesn't appear that you've identified a due process that is being skipped.

"Legal" does not mean "something I think is smart". That's not how democracies work. Up to now, people have continually failed to identify any compelling legal issue with Mr. Trump's order. Trump was voted in by many people who cared deeply about this issue. Everything appears on the up and up, and if an obscure law is being accidentally broken, it's the judiciary's role to recognize and issue orders that will resolve it.

That's the legal system we've set up, and people have had to deal with it literally for centuries. Why is there suddenly outrage over the way this works? Because the media is mad that a guy they dislike has the reins now?


> It doesn't seem typical for presidents to seek to install such instructions by legislative action. President Obama issued several EOs of a similar nature while Ms. Yates was present at the DoJ. Why did she not resign then?

A pretty critical point: Obama used Executive Orders because in part he had a Congress that, courtesy of Mitch McConnell, stated openly that they had no intention of passing Bills on the President's behalf, even if good. That the way to make him a failure was to "do nothing for him". That left Obama with little option but to enact Executive Orders for many things. And with that being said, he still managed to sign less than Bush II or Clinton.

Trump on the other hand has Congress and Republicans firmly in his control, who've shown themselves to be fully "pliant" (or "spineless", depending on your perspective of the world) of all Trump's desires, so Trump has no _need_ of the Executive Order other than to make a statement, "Look at me, I'm the boss. Why would I act like I need approval from Congress?"

There's a distinct difference.


> Obama used Executive Orders because in part he had a Congress that, courtesy of Mitch McConnell, stated openly that they had no intention of passing Bills on the President's behalf, even if good.

So? Mr. Obama's executive orders were in many cases inconsistent with the law and the Constitution. 'They won't be nice to me!' is insufficient reason for any president to violate his oath of office, whether Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama or anyone else.


Please point to Obama's EOs that have been shown (or even suspected) to be unconstitutional. It's hard to find without being bombarded with partisan opinion pieces or quotes to Trump threatening to strike down "unconstitutional EOs"


Mr. Obama's infamous EO package known as "DAPA" (an acronym obviously selected to try to give it a more "actual law"-ish feel) was struck down by the Supreme Court last June in a 4-4 vote. [0] The Court's opinion was one sentence long, merely stating that because it was evenly tied, the appellate court ruling was automatically affirmed.

However, the 5th Circuit's ruling [1] includes this language:

>the INA flatly does not permit the reclassification of millions of illegal aliens as lawfully present and thereby make them newly eligible for a host of federal and state benefits, including work authorization.

DAPA was, from its inception, widely recognized as illegal and it lost at every stage of the judicial process. Obama signed it knowing it would probably get struck down. Yet, Ms. Yates did not see a constitutional obligation to assume the judiciary's function to interpret constitutionality and legality as it related to these orders. Curious that.

[0] http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/united-states-v-t...

[1] http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/15/15-40238-CV0.pdf


Thank you for taking the time to write all you did throughout this thread. Great discussion, much appreciated.


I appreciate that. Thanks.


You claimed you didn't want to get into the details as you weren't "qualified" but you seem to be posting alot of the same points from people who want to believe the administration is completely blameless at this. Which is simply not the case. To go over this point by point:

1) Your point on it being "the Judiciaries" role is just plain wrong. Officers of the government, just like officers in the military have discretion about following illegal orders. As evidence: Former Attorney Generals and other people who worked in the Justice Dept. are either speaking out in favor of Yate's actions, or are just not making this argument. At Yate's own confirmation hearing she was asked whether she would follow the law or follow the President's orders if she were confirmed. The people making your argument are the Trump administration, who are the ones on the spot here, and who haven't even been on the job for two weeks yet.

2) "Do foreign nationals who have not yet been granted access to the United States have rights under the U.S. Constitution?"

Yes absolutely they do. Especially if they are being detained by the U.S. government. The Constitution and other laws are more often about limiting what the government can do, then who the government is doing it to.

2a) The people in the initial cases are Permanent Residents of the U.S. They can't get that status removed without some kind of process. And they were being held by Border Protection which brings up direct Habeus Corpus issues.

3) Your point about whether the acting Attorney General should have resigned instead is clearly wrong as well. If following orders does more harm to people than resigning, it is absolutely the correct move to countermand an illegal order. Also, resigning without giving any reasoning just gives the administration cover for their illegal actions, which is more harmful than forcing them to fire you. The only people resigning would help would be the Administration, so ethically, that resigning was not the "right thing" to do.

4) You seem to be confused about the difference between the "Department of Justice" and the "Department of Homeland Security". He didn't consult the Secretary of DHS who was his own nominee on this. And DHS runs Border Protection and a number of other agencies that are the ones enforcing the order. Also, it is typical to consult Congress when you're doing something that might tick off many of our major allies. Especially since Congress was the ones who wrote the immigration act which is at the heart of many of these lawsuits.

5) "It doesn't appear that you've identified a due process that is being skipped."

You mean other than consulting all of the relevant agencies to make sure it doesn't conflict with any laws that cover them, before implementing the change? Consulting Congress before setting up a policy that conflicts with existing immigration law, particularly the Immigration Act of 1965? Setting up an impartial process for green card holders to contest their deportation, which did not happen at all? Giving warning to residents who are travelling abroad that they may have their visa revoked before they leave so they know to put that into consideration? How about setting up a process for the U.S. to continue to meet it's international human rights obligations to protect refugees? Those kinds of things are all "due process" and all actions that you did not cover because the Trump Administration did not do them.


>Your point on it being "the Judiciaries" role is just plain wrong. Officers of the government, just like officers in the military have discretion about following illegal orders.

You are technically correct that there is an element of obligation and personal responsibility to refuse to carry out wholly unconscionable orders (i.e., orders that would fundamentally violate the constitutional oath of office), but bear in mind this typically applies only in seriously extreme instances. Just as complaining to your CO that you believe his order may violate the Obscure Act on Military Textiles and Linens will get you laughed out of the room and given a swift kick in the ass, inappropriately misapplying the moral duty to refuse to comply with unconscionable orders will get you fired from the DoJ, which everyone knows and expects.

It should also, again, be noted that Yates was not given any specific order which she is singling out as unconscionable, nor was she personally asked to do anything. She obstructed the president's access to the DoJ. I guess it was in another comment you've left somewhere further down the chain, but yes, the DoJ does have an explicit legal duty to represent the government/executive branch in court, and Ms. Yates chose to pull lawyers off that task.

>4) You seem to be confused about the difference between the "Department of Justice" and the "Department of Homeland Security".

I'm not sure why you think I'm confusing these. I know that DHS subsidiaries run the border. Did I say something that misleads about that?

>Those kinds of things are all "due process" and all actions that you did not cover because the Trump Administration did not do them.

No, lol, those things are not due process. Due process means that the persons whose rights are being deprived received the necessary hearings, etc., before the deprivation occurred. "Due process" does not mean that the president has to ask Congress before he does something "that may tick off many of our major allies".


There are two kinds of process in government. On the policy level there is making sure you have taken all the correct steps to ensure that the new policy is fair and follows the law. There is also the individual level where each person affected by the policy is given a chance to have a fair hearing and to appeal any unfair decisions. The Trump administration failed to do either, and this is part of the reason why the Acting Attorney General chose to resign to begin with.


>The law passed by Congress in this case states that the immigration department is not allowed to discriminate based by country of origin.

See Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act:

"(f) Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate."

Case closed.


8 USC § 1152(a)(1)(a):

Except as specifically provided in paragraph (2) and in sections 1101(a)(27), 1151(b)(2)(A)(i), and 1153 of this title, no person shall receive any preference or priority or be discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.

Paragraph 2 does not provide grounds for Trump's order. It sets a cap on the percentage of visas which can go to any foreign state in a given year, but does not allow blanket bans on a particular state.

1101(a)(27) does not provide grounds for Trump's order (it defines a class of "special immigrants" for reference elsewhere).

1151(b)(2)(A)(i) does not provide grounds for Trump's order (it provides a definition for "immediate relatives").

1153 does not provide grounds for Trump's order (it defines an allowable scheme of preferential treatment to certain classes of immigrants, such as the highly-skilled).

So Trump did not have the legal authority to suspend issuance of visas on the basis of national origin. Attempting to do saw was a violation of applicable federal immigration law. His executive order was thus unlawful, and it was correct to refuse enforcement.


8 USC §1182(f) which states in part: "Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate."

§1152 and §1182 would seem to be at odds with each other.

But no

Section 1182(f) plainly and sweepingly authorizes the president to issue temporary bans on the entry of classes of aliens for national-security purposes. This is precisely what President Trump has done. In fact, in doing so, he expressly cites Section 1182(f), and his executive order tracks the language of the statute (finding the entry of aliens from these countries at this time “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States”).

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/444371/donald-trump-ex...


The National Review's article basically boils down to "well, we found this section that allows suspending entry of some people, and even though there's another section explicitly forbidding doing this stuff based on national origin we're going to say he has essentially unlimited power to do whatever he wants".

Meanwhile the federal judge who ordered the stay thinks theress a strong likelihood that the order is either unlawful or even unconstitutional, and a senior Justice official thought it was illegal or unconstitutional.

I'm going to side with the judge and the Justice official over the law firm of Trump and Bannon, LLP.


Your personal opinion is fine, but if there's a legitimate interpretative question here, is it not the duty of the DoJ to allow the judiciary to do its job and support the chief executive until he/she loses in court, fair and square? Such accommodations were afforded by Mr. Obama's DoJ, of which Ms. Yates was a part, in light of his actually-decided-by-SCOTUS-to-be-illegal set of EOs. Ms. Yates is refusing to allow the DoJ to compile arguments in favor of Mr. Trump's order.

The oath of office should only be invoked for the most facially plain constitutional violations. If there's a question, we have a judicial system established to settle that. We can't just have random people arbitrarily declaring their opinion that X and Y are "probably invalid" and then redirecting the nation's legal apparatus based on that.


The Department of Justice's job is not to "support the chief executive". In fact, Yate's was asked directly by then Senator, and current Attorney General nominee, Sessions at her confirmation hearing whether she thought "the attorney general has the responsibility to say no to the President if he asks for something that's improper?"

She did exactly what she said she would and what Congress asked her to do. In this case, I'm going to go with someone who has been in the job for years over the self-serving justifications of an administration that hasn't been in office for two weeks.


Oh yeah, ok, found this comment.

No, among the DoJ's jobs, the task to represent the USG before the judiciary is literally and explicitly given.

There's a special role in the DoJ dedicated to representing the government before the Supreme Court (Solicitor General), but other employees of the DoJ represent the executive branch before other courts.

See Executive Order 6166 (from FDR) [0], Section 5, which states in part "the functions of prosecuting in the courts of the United States claims and demands by, and offsenses against, the Government of the United States, and of defending claims and demands against the Government [...] are transferred to the Department of Justice."

From my reading, the act of Congress that created the Department of Justice in 1870 [1] had a similar purpose, and FDR's order was primarily to remove ambiguity and centralize, not to substantially change the DoJ's function. But I'm neither a lawyer nor a legal historian, so I could definitely be wrong about that.

In any case, yes, the thing that former acting AG Yates did does directly interfere with the DoJ's actual and real legal obligations to represent the executive branch. She instructed all DoJ attorneys to stop preparing/presenting legal defenses for Mr. Trump's Executive Order.

My reading of Sessions' line of questioning is a "Do you think you'd be able to function in a scenario when you need to tell the President that he is wrong", not "Are you prepared to assume for yourself the functions of the judiciary to satisfy your personal, ethereal sense of justice when a legal challenge against the president's orders is filed?"

[0] https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/codification/execu... [1] http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llsl&fileName=01...


So if hypothetically we went to war with country X tomorrow, the president would not be able to suspend entry of X nationals without an act of Congress?


Hypothetically, wouldn't the Act of Congress constitutionally required to declare war probably include a suspension of immigration itself? ;)


Yeah, I guess I was using war in the colloquial term (I don't believe the US has issued a formal declaration of war since World War II)

FWIW I think banning green card holders was stupid (both legally and politically - predictability is good for a legal system, and we already made a promise to green card holders. Politically he had to have known this backlash would happen).

It's just that...I don't know, it seems so polarized right now that you have to support one of two sides, and both are insane. The natural end game of "the right" is that no one else is allowed to come to America, ever. The natural end game of "the left" is that anyone who wants to come to America can, and the magical institutions of America will transform them into Americans, regardless of what they presently believe or how many of them there are. And there is a ratchet effect on both sides, where if you don't believe the most extreme version, you either hate America and its historic population, or you're a racist xenophobe.


She signed an oath to defend the constitution, not an oath of loyalty to Trump.


And what's the Constitutional argument that the President is not allowed to issue EOs of this type? What's the argument that Mr. Trump's EO specifically violates the Constitution?

Law enforcement is not the judiciary. They are part of the the executive branch. Their job is to enforce the law under the direction of the chief executive, at the moment President Trump, who was clearly installed by Constitutional means.

Unless Ms. Yates can highlight a clear and present Constitutional violation that justifies disregarding the also-Constitutional obligation to uphold and respect the peoples' elected chief executive, there's simply nothing to go on here.


Perhaps you can educate us, then, when the executive branch gained the power to create law in the form of executive orders?

Thought experiment: if Obama had issued an EO stating that his interpretation of the 2nd amendment referred only to state militias, and as a result he was proceeding to forcibly confiscated all privately owned firearms, would that be constitutional?


>Perhaps you can educate us, then, when the executive branch gained the power to create law in the form of executive orders?

The Wikipedia article looks like a pretty good general overview. While it is true that EOs as such are not explicitly accommodated by the Constitution, EO-equivalents with the force of law have been enacted by presidents from George Washington onward. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_order . If you want more information, please consult Google. EOs are not new.

>Thought experiment: if Obama had issued an EO stating that his interpretation of the 2nd amendment referred only to state militias, and as a result he was proceeding to forcibly confiscated all privately owned firearms, would that be constitutional?

Trump is not re-interpreting the Constitution via EO. He is not overriding binding precedent from SCOTUS by EO (only Congress can do that, and sometimes it requires a Constitutional amendment). He is not running a national confiscation program by EO (though FDR did do this when he used EOs to make it illegal for Americans to own gold) [0].

He is doing something that is considered well within presidential power -- directing the Department of Homeland Security in its duty to vet and screen potential entrants to the United States. Foreign nationals have no right, implicit or explicit, to enter the United States.

Border control is a universally recognized duty that every country not only acknowledges, but actively enforces (and many of our first-world peers are much more aggressive than us). Without such screening, borders are irrelevant. Within U.S. law specifically, it's undisputed that such matters are under the DHS's purview, and that the DHS is under the executive branch's purview.

It seems, therefore, that an EO directing the DHS in these duties would be completely logical, right? President Obama issued several addressing the same fundamental types of issues, though his EOs generally liberalized migration policies rather than tightening them. Why is it legal for Obama to give orders of this nature, but not Trump?

I'm not a lawyer and I don't know if there are specific statutory details imposed upon the DHS in its screening process, but it doesn't appear obvious to anyone that anything about Trump's EO conflicts with any existing law. Even Ms. Yates is unable to elucidate the nature of her purported legal argument.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_6102


What are the legal rights of green card holders, then? Was the EO consistent with existing US law?


I'm not an immigration lawyer and I don't know. Does the AG normally deny the president access to the DoJ based on an unspecified, ethereal debate over the potential conflict behind a few statutes?

People are claiming that she had a constitutional obligation to do this which superseded her other constitutional obligation to serve the duly-elected chief executive. Do you contend that any potential statutory conflict rises to that level? If so, it would appear that the AG can only act on laws that had been fully adjudicated and for which there is currently no controversy or unsettled questions of law.

Remember, this is not about prosecutorial discretion; this is the acting AG denying the president access to resources that would typically be available to present his case to the judiciary, whose actual job is to make these determinations.

You seem to be radically redefining the role of the AG/DoJ.


Are you sure you understand the history, legally defined role, and traditions of the AG well enough to say, "You seem to be radically redefining the role of the AG/DoJ." to me? That's an awfully strong statement.

Green card holders legally well defined rights with strong precedent. I would personally research where those are defined and how they were affected by the original EA if I wanted to understand the full context of the former EA's actions.


>Are you sure you understand the history, legally defined role, and traditions of the AG well enough to say, "You seem to be radically redefining the role of the AG/DoJ." to me? That's an awfully strong statement.

No.


Thanks for the good discussion, upvotes are a token of my appreciation.


President Trump is merely exercising his clearly-delineated powers as defined in Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

You really should bone up on the law if you're going to start trying to make arguments about what's legal and what isn't, in a given context.


Yes, you really should bone up on the law:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13529036


> She signed an oath to defend the constitution, not an oath of loyalty to Trump.

Yes, indeed: and the choice available which is consistent with that oath is to resign.


Resigning neither defends nor upholds the Constitution. It should be expected that one would go as far as one could, until such time as one could go no further (like, by being fired), to uphold and defend the Constitution. If everyone simply resigned, the oath would be meaningless, and the republic would fall. Inconvenient as it often is, we need people to stand up and refuse to resign when they feel the Constitution is threatened by executive or congressional action.


Ms. Yates has presented no Constitutional argument against President Trump's order. She has not even presented a basic legal argument against it. Her one-page letter [0] cites no statute, no section of the Constitution, no precedent or case law. It does not claim that she is bound to defy President Trump in order to remain fast to her oath of office.

It merely asserts that it is her duty to ensure that the DoJ "always seeks justice" and that she does not feel that allowing DoJ resources to compile an argument in support of Mr. Trump's order is consistent with that.

Remember, as a member of the executive branch, she also has an obligation to respect and serve the chief executive duly elected and installed by the American people. Ms. Yates is [was] an unelected appointee.

While I agree in principle that blatant and serious constitutional violations (the only type someone who is not a member of the judiciary can recognize) require real defiance, if there truly is a cogent Constitutional defense to be made here, would one not expect it to be presented? Ms. Yates does not appear to be defending the Constitution in any meaningful way here, and indeed, she does not claim to be doing so in her letter.

[0] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/30/us/document-L...


You're talking past my point to a different one. And no, as both a principle and rule, I do not expect everyone to lay out their case when refusing to go along with an order they believe to violate their oath and/or the Constitution. Acting AG Yates made it clear that she questioned the legality and justness of the order and would not be able to defend it. She also knew exactly what would happen next.

You've been repeating your argument nearly word-for-word throughout the comments here. It's very clear you stand firmly there; nobody has convinced you otherwise despite repeated attempts engaging your points directly, even when your comments do not directly respond to the OPs to which you reply (like me).

Checks and balances are the core of our government. Those checks and balances exist as much within the branches as they exist across the branches. Resigning is an action that neither checks nor balances—and it ought not be expected of anyone, appointed or otherwise. Executive officials, especially within the DOJ, have a responsibility and obligation to the People and Constitution first, and somewhere after that the executive. That's what their oath demands. They don't take an oath to the executive.


>You're talking past my point to a different one. And no, as both a principle and rule, I do not expect everyone to lay out their case when refusing to go along with an order they believe to violate their oath and/or the Constitution.

You're putting words in her mouth. She has not claimed that the Order was unconstitutional. She has not claimed that allowing the DoJ to do its normal work of providing representation to the USG in court actions violated her oath of office. She was not personally given an unconscionable order from POTUS; she chose to interfere in the DoJ's routine work of representing the USG before the judiciary. At this moment, the only viable motive appears to be the desire to make a loud political statement.

"Unconstitutional" means some provision of the Constitution is violated. It doesn't mean "I don't like this law". It doesn't mean "I REALLY don't like this law". The Constitution is a real thing with real words in it, and if those words are not contradicted by an act, it's not unconstitutional. While unconstitutionality is one way in which things can become illegal, it's not the only way, so saying it "may not be legal" isn't claiming it's unconstitutional either.

Ms. Yates does not state that the President's order is unconstitutional. I'm not saying she states it but it doesn't count because she doesn't recount her argument or rationale, she simply doesn't state it. Since she's a lawyer and lawyers thrive on technicalities, she p

>You've been repeating your argument nearly word-for-word throughout the comments here. It's very clear you stand firmly there; nobody has convinced you otherwise despite repeated attempts engaging your points directly, even when your comments do not directly respond to the OPs to which you reply (like me).

I've already addressed the resignation comments elsewhere downthread, and as you point out, the repetition is tiring. I'm sorry if you were offended that I passed over it in this specific reply and chose instead to focus on correcting the incorrect belief that because Ms. Yates thought the order was unjust, she also thought it was unconstitutional, or that her oath to uphold the Constitution mandated her choice.

One can believe something is both Constitutional and unjust, and indeed, a great many things are.

>Resigning is an action that neither checks nor balances—and it ought not be expected of anyone, appointed or otherwise.

No. I'm repeating myself here specifically because you've asked, so please don't try to hold this against me again in another comment.

Government officials resign over personal quibbles because they respect their office and role as representatives of the People of the United States.

If the People have placed that official in a position where they're duty-bound to obey or implement a measure to which they take serious personal umbrage, the honorable thing is to recognize the inherent personal conflict and step aside. This allows the peoples' will to be executed and it allows the moral officer to retain his/her personal integrity.

A person who grasps to the office knowing that he/she cannot faithfully execute its duties and thus requires his/her superior to catch on and make the termination on the people's behalf is showing blatant disrespect for their office and its obligations to the American people and the republican-democratic way of life. Government officials must not forget that their office is not to pursue or represent their personal affairs, interests, or opinions, but those of the people of the United States.

This pattern was followed in the Saturday Night Massacre from the Nixon era, in the which two [acting] AGs turned in their resignations in rapid succession because their personal ethical codes did not allow them to comply with President Nixon's order to fire the Watergate special prosecutor.

Please also note that again, we're talking about specific, already settled things. Saying "Well, I don't think the people want that, so I'm not circumventing their will" is not a real excuse; for these purposes, "the peoples' will" is expressed whenever Constitutional governance is followed. If the people have installed a chief executive whom the AG finds distasteful, the AG is still bound to recognize that executive as the peoples' representative.

All of this applies equally up and down the ranks. It's equally applicable to Kim Davis, the county clerk in KY who refused to comply with SCOTUS's ruling in Obergefell. If she was unable to find some compromise position that would allow her subordinates to file the papers for her or whatever (which, afaik, she ultimately did), she was duty-bound to resign. Kim Davis's refusal to show respect for her office and choice instead to make a political spectacle of herself was very sad.

I'll add that while such unprofessional behavior from a low-level county clerk may not be completely surprising, such behavior from the acting head of the Department of Justice is another story.

>Executive officials, especially within the DOJ, have a responsibility and obligation to the People and Constitution first, and somewhere after that the executive.

Insofar as the executive is duly installed by the People via constitutional means, an obligation to uphold the People and the Constitution is an obligation to the uphold the executive, at least insofar as doing so is part of the structural configuration of the government, and in this case, it is. The DoJ represents the USG before the judiciary. That representation is precisely what Ms. Yates was trying to disrupt.

Everyone agrees that the people knew what they were getting when they put Trump in. Everyone also agrees that there is no glaring constitutional violation in Mr. Trump's order.

If the [acting] AG is at liberty to individually dictate DoJ policy based on nothing but his/her personal feelings of justice, in what capacity are they operating as agents of the people? Why do we need a judiciary and a legislature if the enforcement arm is free to disregard their work, as you seem to be suggesting?

Again, this is not a matter of prosecutorial discretion, in the which the AG would be able to decline to prosecute on certain statutes on a case-by-case basis (and if it just so happens those case-by-case numbers break down with 0 prosecutions, so be it). This is not even the acting AG refusing an unconscionable order. This is simply the acting AG injecting herself into the daily, routine work of the Department of Justice because of her personal sense of justice, with wanton disregard for her role as an officer of the people of the United States, who installed Mr. Trump as the chief executive, and who was quite clear that he would do something like this shortly after getting into office.


Jesus Christ. So, now you are putting a ridiculously great many words in my mouth, alleging I've made claims I did not, apparently for the sake of providing yourself a reason to talk ... a lot. You seem to just want to hear yourself speak throughout your comments here. I didn't ask anything of you at all, yet you somehow imagine I did. You make sweeping statements of what everyone agrees on—yet everyone most certainly does not agree on these things.

We have different opinions on some things related to expectation of behaviors in certain conditions.


> She signed an oath to defend the constitution, not an oath of loyalty to Trump.

Yes, indeed: and the choice available which is consistent with that oath is to resign.


Why is that the only choice? I don't get this idea that you must either obey or resign. What's wrong with refusing to obey, not resigning, and giving your superiors the choice of accepting that or firing you?


I guess it's a moot point. Now we have a guy who will "just follow orders".


I know of a credible argument that this executive order was inconsistent with federal immigration law:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13529036


It was an executive order in violation of law. That seems like exactly the kind of discretion that an AG has and should have.


"the attorney general is a member of the bar"

While I'm sure that's always or virtually always been true in practice, nothing in the relevant U.S. Code appears to require it (it is definitely not the case for the Supreme Court).


What's the relevant US code? I was just searching through legal resources for an answer, and this was the first one I found.

And there are no legal guidelines to whether you are allowed to be a federal judge of any kind. The same is not true of prosecutors.


Then you disagree with Jeff Sessions who said "the attorney general has a responsibility to say no to the president if he asks for something that's improper." Ironically he did this at Sally Yates' confirmation hearing, he went on to praise John Ashcroft for resisting the Bush administration.

http://theweek.com/speedreads/677012/watch-jeff-sessions-urg...


You're both right, but when it plays out in public, someone has to get fired.


I disagree. When the AG points out that an executive action is morally or legally dubious, it reflects more on the actions of the president than on the AG.

In this case, government cannot be compared to a business, where a subordinate publicly questioning a superior's decision is indicative of unruly management, leaving the superior in a position where he/she needs to reassure the public that he's/she's in charge. Government doesn't work like that.

Nobody "needs" to get fired. From where would the need come?


Hmm. You made me think about this differently. Trump comes from the business world, so it makes sense that he would treat his current role the same. Not that I agree with the mentality at all, but it does seem less inherently spiteful now.

It also isn't lost on me that he made his reality television name by saying "You're fired."


If you fire someone for being a professional, you're going to get unprofessional behavior.

So yeah, you can do it. But you'll get what you get.


Which assumes what he asked was improper.


I'm concerned we're going to see unprecedented levels of constitutional and legal violations from this particular executive branch. Checks and balances are great, but not when they happen after the fact. And no, the president is not elected dictator, there's a degree of insubordination allowed. It's not the first time an AG has said "we cannot fight this ruling, nor should we".


This has already been contemplated and intentionally decided - see Federalist 70.


> > The major worry for me is Trump's seeking to punish anyone who shows disloyalty.

> It's the entire reason there are 2 other branches of government.

You have DHS officials refusing to obey a court order[0] and the White House refusing to share information with Congress[1]. Where are the checks and balances?

0. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/29/customs-bord...

1. http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/317006-rubio-state-asked-...


Would you write an app that stores important passwords in plaintext client side if your boss demanded it?


This is a great question, and one that should be asked of any engineer.

If you answer yes to this question, you should find another career. Engineers have ethical responsibilities as well.


The vast majority of developers are not engineers even if they like calling themselves Software Engineers.


Interestingly, Chrome AFAIK did and still does this for stored website passwords. The team argued that anything but plaintext would be a more dangerous illusion of security, since Chrome itself needs to be able to retrieve that data at any time with no password.


It is actually quite common to only hash passwords server side. Not on the client.

edit: Never mind. Parent was about storing not about sending passwords in clear text.


And of course the reason why CBP ignored the judiciary when federal judges issued orders about the EO. Conspiracy-theory wise, it is why the Trump White House page deleted the judicial branch from its sitemap (still has legislative).

And of course, keep in mind that 'following orders' is never a particularly good reason to break with your own morality.


> ... it's fully expected that anyone under the President may be forced to do whatever the President wants.

Except, for the health and continuing stability of the republic, one should not expect this in cases where the President is judged by legal experts to be outside the Constitution. On principle alone, we do not expect civil servants to simply "do whatever the President wants"—that way lies tyranny. We expect them to uphold and defend the Constitution, not executive agendas. That's the oath they take. Every President is rightly subjected to scrutiny and criticism when they fire people for disagreement. We created this system of government to avoid the abuses of unchecked power.


There is an expression that gained currency in Russia in recent years: negative selection. The Russian president nominates the worst possible people to the top jobs of government--people who take bribes, people who are incompetent and are known to have committed grave mistakes--because those are the people most likely to be loyal to him to the end. Any show of competence and independence leads to a summary dismissal.


Over here there is an old say which roughly translates into "you can get an idea of a person by seeing the ones he/she chooses to have near or work with him/her". I have notice this behaviour in the corporate world as well, ie hiring incompetent but easy to herd yesmen, and usually is a sign of some sort of corruption.


I have worked with some managers that defensively promote others loyal to them around themselves in a similar fashion, but had not heard the term before "negative selection" but it explains it beautifully.


Comes as a surprise as she is the only person in the DOJ authorized to sign off on foreign security letters [0]

How nice that Trump right out of the gate has kneecapped his administration in terms of intelligence gathering! At least until a puppet replacement is approved by the Senate.

[0] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/30/us/politics/trump-immigra...

[Edit: earlier in the day I read that the acting AG was the only Senate approved signatory. As somebody below me pointed out, that is no longer the current interpretation of who is able to sign these letters in the provided link. I'm keeping my post up as originally written because things moved so dang fast today.]


This is not true. The NYT article has been fixed.


Heck it was basically rewritten multiple times. http://newsdiffs.org/article-history/www.nytimes.com/2017/01...


Ah! Thanks... things moved so quickly today. Mid afternoon I read she was the only approved signatory. You are indeed correct about the revision.


She was fired properly and not for political reasons the EO was approved, determined legal, by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. Her reasoning reflected the fact she knew she had no legal basis to defend the EO. She should have resigned instead she made matters worse.

The restriction is against seven countries. Presidents Obama and Carter both enacted immigration bans against Muslim dominant countries (Iraq and Iraq). This still leaves over fifty majority Muslim countries unaffected by the EO including the five most populated countries.

It is not any more a Muslim ban than when past Presidents put restrictions on immigration from countries labeled as dangerous.


Trump literally asked for a "Muslim ban" https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/the-fix/wp/2017/...

The other countries aren't banned because he has business interests there: https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2017/01/29/poli...

"The list does not include Muslim-majority countries where the Trump Organization does business, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. In financial disclosure forms during the presidential campaign, he listed two companies with dealings in Egypt and eight with business in Saudi Arabia. And in the UAE, the Trump Organization is partnering with a local billionaire to develop two golf courses in Dubai."


I don't understand your point. Trump has dismissed the acting AG for refusing to execute the laws. As far as I know, Ms. Yates's job as acting AG is to preside over the enforcement of the law, not to decide whether it is constitutional (there is a process for that, and Ms. Yates is not in a position to make that determination) nor to decide whether it is good policy (as she is neither a legislator nor the chief executive). Would Democrats be pleased to see the same latitude offered to Senator Sessions once he's installed?

Note this is not an instance of prosecutorial discretion. Ms. Yates is not refusing to prosecute people under the law; rather, she is instructing her subordinates to refrain from doing the necessary work that would allow the government fair representation during hearings on the law.

If she is unwilling to fulfill her job duties for personal reasons (and likewise instructs her subordinates to stop fulfilling theirs), the appropriate course of action is to resign, is it not? If she's unwilling to do that and wishes to make a spectacle of herself, wouldn't a dismissal be the expected resolution?

How is dismissing an acting AG who refuses to enforce the law "purely political" and not an expected, appropriate response to someone who has refused to execute the laws of the country they're supposed to represent? Does it make sense to allow an acting AG to remain in place after she intentionally and explicitly declines to recognize the president's authority to direct the executive branch?


> Trump has dismissed the acting AG for refusing to execute the laws.

An E.O. that conflicts with statute or the Constitution is not law, in fact, it a violation of the law.

> As far as I know, Ms. Yates's job as acting AG is to preside over the enforcement of the law, not to decide whether it is constitutional

Deciding whether the is a reasonable legal argument for an action before defending it and not defending it otherwise is absolutely her obligation, both as a officer of the court and a public officer with an oath to the Constitution.

> Would Democrats be pleased to see the same latitude offered to Senator Sessions once he's installed?

Democrats prime objection to Sessions involves recognizing that this job responsibility and being concerned that Sessions' past record indicates he would exercise it poorly, from their perspective.


>An E.O. that conflicts with statute or the Constitution is not law, in fact, it a violation of the law.

That's not up to the Attorney General to decide, that's up to the Supreme court to decide.


>An E.O. that conflicts with statute or the Constitution is not law, in fact, it a violation of the law.

And that is not the case, here. The Executive Order in question is firmly grounded in section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Get your facts straight.


The two objections I have seen most often in commentary are that Trump's order fell afoul of the 1965 Hart-Celler Act (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/opinion/trumps-immigratio...), or Trump's EO fell afoul of 8 U.S. Code § 1152 (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/8/1152).

I have seen a lot of commentary arguing one way or another regarding this issue. My personal conclusion at this time is "firmly grounded" would be too strong of a statement, in my opinion.


"An EO conflicts/doesn't conflict the statute" is a decision that only the judiciary branch is qualified to make, not you or the president. If judiciary and president disagrees about whether something is a valid law or a violation of the law, the judiciary branch is right by definition.


> "An EO conflicts/doesn't conflict the statute" is a decision that only the judiciary branch is qualified to make, not you or the president.

Incorrect. It's a question that only the judiciary is empowered to authoritatively resolve [0]. Were questions of Constitutionality (and whether or not an executive act is both grounded in statute and not prohibited by another statute is, given the Constitutional roles ofmthe legislative and executive branch, ultimately one of the Constitutionality of the act) not one on which the President (and various other officials) were qualified by virtue of their office alone to decide and act on prior to judicial resolution, oaths to the Constitution and/or laws such as those taken by the President and other public officials would be meaningless.

[0] Except that Congress may also do so, but only in the context of impeachment proceedings based on the purported illegality and without binding effect outside the specific proceeding in which it makes the determination. But its decision in such a case is final and unreviewable.


Agreed. So why is the former acting AG's conduct justified?


According to her announcement, she seemed to believe that the order was unlawful. As she was the most important litigator in the land, I don't think it's as cut and dry as you say.


But there was no case given, it smelled of politics from the beginning and her lack of presenting a compelling legal case doomed her, in my opinion.


She did give a case. You can read it here: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/30/us/document-L...


Thanks for linking to that! I wish news outlets would make these primary sources more directly accessible. It's great to read her words directly and in context.

That doesn't sound like a case at all. She cites no law nor any Constitutional provision that may be violated. She provides no citation to case law.

She states that the order "has been challenged in a number of jurisdictions" and that DoJ has a "solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right", which apparently is depriving the duly-elected chief executive of a fair legal defense to present in those challenges based on the acting AG's personal opinions.

She implies that "statements made by an administration or it [sic] surrogates close in time to the issuance of an Executive Order" may play some role in some type of illegality, though this clearly violates accepted standards of judicial interpretation, which consider the law as written, not the extralegal public statements of people involved in its development.

Let's call a spade a spade here. No one can seriously believe there is a strong legal argument for her conduct or that it, in any way, represents typical or expected behavior for the head of DoJ, which is a division of the executive branch under the President's authority and jurisdiction.

Ms. Yates is simply grandstanding and taking advantage of an opportunity for positive personal publicity and negative publicity on a political opponent. In her search for exposure, she adds fuel to the nefarious fire that seeks to threaten the integrity of American democracy, promoted by mainstream media outlets who absolutely cannot stand that people are using the internet to escape their chokehold and would rather see the whole country burn than lose their ability to control the propaganda diet of the average American.


Here's a prescient clip from Sally Yates' nomination (March 2014). Reality certainly loves irony because the Senator asking the question was Jeff Sessions.

I made a quick and dirty transcription of the interesting bits, but I encourage you to view the whole thing[1].

Sen. Jeff Sessions: Do you think the Attorney General has a duty to say no to the president when asked to do something that is improper? ...

Sally Yates: I believe the AG and the deputy AG have an obligation to follow the law and the constitution, and to give their independent legal advice to the president

1. https://youtu.be/sXDt3WA07zc


Sure, that's all normal. Note that she says it's their obligation to give legal advice to the president and follow the law and Constitution. The Constitution provides that the president is the chief executive and oversees the DoJ. Right now, the minor potential legal arguments that have been put forth by commentators (not Ms. Yates herself; she provides no legal argument or justification) do not rise to the level of constitutional violations or anything that may imperil her oath of office.

Why is Ms. Yates comfortable allowing the judiciary to make its decisions on Mr. Obama's illegal EOs but not comfortable allowing it to do so on Mr. Trump's EOs? There's a reason we have a legal system with strict procedures and rules regarding argumentation, standards of evidence, etc. In ordinary conditions, a fair decision cannot be rendered by an attorney sitting alone in a room, and, barring a blatant constitutional violation, it's improper to redirect the resources of the DoJ based on such decisions.


> Why is Ms. Yates comfortable allowing the judiciary to make its decisions on Mr. Obama's illegal EOs but not comfortable allowing it to do so on Mr. Trump's EOs?

Firstly, Obama's EO's were not "illegal": they were well thought out and released only after much consultation with the DOJ to precisely ensure that such a situation does not occur. Now, we have a week-old President with no political experience rapidly firing off EO's without consulting the DOJ. And the EO's themselves seem to be unconstitutional and disrupting the lives of many people.

But the answer to your question is: she is more comfortable because in her opinion as a lawyer, the Immigration ban is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. She voiced that opinion knowing that she had the possibility of being fired. I don't understand why you keep going off on tangents (Obama passed illegal EO's!) instead of simply accepting the fact, the fact that Ms. Yates did precisely what she had sworn to do: uphold the constitution.

> In ordinary conditions, a fair decision cannot be rendered by an attorney sitting alone in a room, and, barring a blatant constitutional violation, it's improper to redirect the resources of the DoJ based on such decisions.

Precisely. In her opinion, this IS a blatant constitutional violation.


>Firstly, Obama's EO's were not "illegal": they were well thought out and released only after much consultation with the DOJ to precisely ensure that such a situation does not occur.

They were illegal according to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States. This has already been adjudicated. Look up Texas et al v. United States (from 2016).

>Now, we have a week-old President with no political experience rapidly firing off EO's without consulting the DOJ.

Is there a source for the claim that Mr. Trump did not consult the DoJ before issuing this EO? I haven't seen it if so. Regardless of whether Trump sought advice directly from the DoJ or not, Trump advisors have independently stated that the Order was drafted by attorneys and was the product of serious legal research and consultation (though not necessarily with or without attorneys employed by the DoJ). What's your argument here? Trump didn't use the right lawyers to help him draw up the EO? Is there some reason the president is required to use specific lawyers to assist him in drafting orders?

>And the EO's themselves seem to be unconstitutional and disrupting the lives of many people.

No, no one has presented a credible constitutional argument against the EO. The only legal arguments I've seen are related specifically to statutory, not constitutional, restrictions.

Ms. Yates herself makes no legal argument, either constitutional, procedural, or statutory. Her letter [0] contains 0 citations.

That an order is disruptive to some people has nothing to do with its legality.

>But the answer to your question is: she is more comfortable because in her opinion as a lawyer, the Immigration ban is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.

She is, of course, more than welcome to her personal opinions. However, it's extremely unprofessional to allow political proclivities to disrupt one's work.

If she could not in good conscience discharge the responsibilities of the AG, which include supporting the chief executive, the morally consistent option would've been resignation. Like the rest of the government, the DoJ is an institution that belongs to the American people, and leading it comes with an established, non-malleable set of roles and responsibilities, which include the responsibility to advise and represent the executive branch. Unless doing that would require Ms. Yates to violate her oath of office (and she doesn't claim it does), defiance is not justified.

>I don't understand why you keep going off on tangents (Obama passed illegal EO's!) instead of simply accepting the fact

It's not a tangent. Ms. Yates apparently feels the president does not have the legal authority to make orders of this nature when President Trump is in office, but that he does have the authority when President Obama is in office.

>the fact that Ms. Yates did precisely what she had sworn to do: uphold the constitution.

No, she didn't. She doesn't claim that she did. She makes no constitutional argument in support of defying the president, which she would surely be morally obligated to make if there was a credible one. She makes no legal argument of any type.

She merely states that she believes it's her responsibility to ensure the DoJ always does what's right, and apparently to her, "what's right" is based solely on her opinion and not the will of the American people based on principles of republican-democratic governance and the constitutional mechanisms that enact it in this land.

Really she seems much better suited to the private sector, where the personal opinion of the top dog is virtually as good as law. But that's not how a free government of the people and by the people works.

>Precisely. In her opinion, this IS a blatant constitutional violation.

No, there is no evidence that she believes this. There is no credible constitutional argument floating around out there (except perhaps the argument that the president has no authority to issue any EOs at all), and Ms. Yates does not claim to have one. She does not say that her oath of office obliges her to defy the president based on the competing obligation she owes to the supreme law of the land. She does not even definitively say that she thinks the order is illegal, just that it may be (because she knows it's not within her purview to decide whether specific laws are legal or not). She then announces that she will refuse to allow the DoJ to develop arguments in support of the president's position, depriving the chief executive of legal resources that are important and necessary to representing the executive branch before the judiciary. If anything, her actions will end up only prolonging the effects of Mr. Trump's order and preventing the judiciary from promptly sewing it up if it is indeed illegal.

If the constitutional violation were blatant, the judiciary would be moving rapidly to respond and support Ms. Yates's decision. That is not occurring now because there is no such justification, only media hysterics.

The judiciary recognizes that any potential legal challenge will be non-obvious and require careful evaluation and judgment after each side is given a fair hearing and the opportunity to present their arguments according to accepted legal standards and the long-established legal processes that we've set up to handle such nuanced challenges and claims.

There is nothing here, nothing at all. You're right, she knew she would be fired and that it would set off a media firestorm. She was going to be displaced next week when Senator Sessions gets confirmed and this was a way to go out in a blaze of glory and raise her public profile, perhaps launching a career as a politician in a liberal district. But I know of no legitimate argument that her conduct was anything but self-serving.

[0] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/30/us/document-L...


If she could not in good conscience discharge the responsibilities of the AG, which include supporting the chief executive, the morally consistent option would've been resignation.

I agree with most of what you say, but why do you feel the actions she took were morally inconsistent? What is the moral imperative to quietly resign rather than to call attention to an issue you feel merits greater public scrutiny? While you can accuse her of having the wrong moral framework, I don't see how you can conclude that her behavior is inconsistent with the framework she believes in.


>It's not a tangent. Ms. Yates apparently feels the president does not have the legal authority to make orders of this nature when President Trump is in office, but that he does have the authority when President Obama is in office.

There's a very simple answer to this:

She did not believe that the Obama EO was unconstitutional, whereas she believed that this one was. Then, everything makes sense. You can rant about how "there's no credible argument", but I'm inclined to believe an Attourney General over someone on an internet forum with regards to the law.

So tell me this: what should she have done if she believed the EO, as applied, would be unconstitutional?

Edit: also the judiciary is moving swiftly, in the past two days, the EO has been practically gutted in the courts.


So tell me this: what should she have done if she believed the EO, as applied, would be unconstitutional?

You ask a reasonable hypothetical, but I don't think it matches the circumstances here. If Yates felt that she could not in good faith enforce the order because it was unconstitutional, I think she would have been very clear about this in her memo: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/30/us/document-L...

Instead, while not ruling out unconstitutionality, she pointed to the "broader" responsibility she feels the leader of the Department of Justice should have. I thought she said quite clearly (for a lawyer) that although she was uncertain whether the order was legal, her refusal was because she judged the order to be unjust and unwise. Personally, I greatly respect her differentiation between "constitutional" and "right".


> Personally, I greatly respect her differentiation between "constitutional" and "right".

Very good point. I hate that it can be taken as taking a political stand whereas it appears to be more of a humanitarian one.


This is spelled out in her letter: she's not convinced the EO is lawful and she invited being convinced. Instead of sending Stephen Miller over to provide a compelling argument in favor of the EO, or assign a special defender for the EO, she was fired. That's legal, but comes with political consequences, as both law and history indicate.

And I just saw a clip from March 2015 of Jeff Sessions asking Sally Yates during her confirmation hearing as deputy AG whether she would stand up to the president if what he's asking her to do is not lawful, and she stated she would. And now she's doing exactly what she promised she'd do.

What smells, sounds, and looks like politics, is having a political operative placed on the NSC as a regular attendee. And having an executive order providing no credible improvement to national security by the estimation of numerous national security experts and over 100 career diplomats at the State Department. Distilled, it's an EO that appears throws meat to an anti-Muslim nationalist base at the expense of refugees, global opinion of the U.S., and visa holders in the U.S. needing renewal inside the temporary ban who now are at risk of deportation primarily because they're Muslim. But it also puts the president's own agenda at risk by putting a spotlight on his impulsiveness, and leaves him open to political distractions and even reprisal.

At best this EO is clumsy. At worst it's intentional. Either way it's totally self inflicted distracting nonsense of the administration's own choosing. Yes he promised to do something like this, but he promised to be a bigot and break the law, and I think that's a campaign promise he could just not keep. So it appears to be rather intentional and clumsy.


Lawyers do not decide whether a law is lawful. (Specific types of) judges do. There is a long, well-established process to this. Lawyers obviously already know that. This is a publicity stunt intended to raise her profile and nothing more.

She is claiming that there are potential legal conflicts without being specific because she knows that her only defense is to claim that she is bound to disregard the order by a higher law. Like a lot of things lawyers say, it's just enough to give her a shade of grey sufficient for plausible deniability. Without such a claim, there'd be no question that she had failed to fill her obligations as an officer of the law, because as we've already established, it's not the AG's position to determine the validity of the laws. We elect legislators and install judges to perform those functions.

The AG's duty is to fairly enforce the laws without allowing their personal inclinations to supersede the will of the people expressed through the republican-democratic processes under which we are governed. Executive orders, including executive orders that address immigration, have long since been established as lawful.

If Ms. Yates sees a blatant constitutional violation in President Trump's order, the correct thing to do would be to resign and immediately work to assist challenges to the law via the long-established processes that permit that. As a high-ranking official in the DoJ, she would surely have the knowledge and connections to do this expeditiously.

Would Democrats have been pleased with Loretta Lynch if she refused to do her part to uphold Obama's EO's regarding immigration enforcement? Something tells me they wouldn't.


Executive officers have an independent duty to consider the constitutionality of orders they enforce. Indeed, they can be held personally liable for violating "clearly established law."


She's an interim AG, holdover from the prior administration. Wasn't going to be there long regardless.


As true as this is, the symbolism behind this action is really troubling. If the attorney general claims that something may be illegal and unenforceable, people should listen. This comes off as purely political and makes it seem as though Trump will just fire anyone who disagrees with him, regardless of whether or not it makes sense to do so.


Obama produced EO that were unenforceable and deemed overreaching (i.e. not legal to enforce). Yet, he was seen as acting in good faith during the DAPA[1] dispute, and no one in their right mind would propose that then President Obama should have been called out by his AG, and imprisioned for attempting tyrannical action.

I think mostly its because Obama's acts were considered "compassionate" and right by some. Others with a more cynical view would say that issuing an EO that is entirely to the benefit of foreign nationals who are guilty of illegal acts against the United States is bordering on treason.

[1]

What was DAPA? It ensured that federal funding could be used to provide benefits such as healthcare and schooling to migrants who did not comply with immigration law.


>As true as this is, the symbolism behind this action is really troubling.

On the contrary, I find it thrilling, and am eager for more in this vein.


[flagged]


You can't argue this way on HN, and since your side of this argument is so utterly in command of the high ground, I'm kind of baffled by why you'd think name calling was a good idea.

You have the facts on your side. Use them to win the argument, already.


> You have the facts on your side. Use them to win the argument, already.

I agree it would have been educational for many here to include a few of the definitions of fascism[0] as a political/idealogical term, just to drive home the point of how closely Trump is skirting the edge already after only a week or so.

[0] there's not a single generally agreed-upon definition, but you don't get extra points if you "only" hit a couple of them.

However, to address your point that the term was used for name calling:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Definitions_of_fascism#Fascist...

Now of course the word "bully" is a purposeful understatement (and of course saying "fascist" when you mean "bully" is no proper way of arguing on HN). And that would be that, if this were some other frivolous topic. But it's quite fair to argue that the situation is a lot closer to the various serious definitions of fascism than it is to the mere vague pejorative. The world is looking in horror, and we're all thinking it. Maybe another week of these "crazy antics" before we can say it without being downvoted? Don't wait too long though, or you might not be allowed to say it at all.


[flagged]


If you can't do better than name-calling with a flat-earther, I don't know what to tell you.


My point is that facts do nothing to those that are committed to fiction. Presenting facts or debating gives their position legitimacy. Better to just dismiss lunacy with a pejorative term and move along.


No, as you can see, that's just a way to get your own comments flagged. If someone writes something so bad you can't respond to it, that's what the "flag" button is for.


We've asked you not to do this already, please stop!


Why can't I speak out against these people? Why does HN protect people like this?


>The major worry for me is Trump's seeking to punish anyone who shows disloyalty.

If I was President/General/CEO and someone doesn't do the thing I have ordered, i'm going to fire them as well. I think you should be more worried about insert extremely generic anti-trump comment regarding perceived intelligence, narcissism, small hands, refusal to listen to experts, climate denial or other such comment


> If I was President/General/CEO and someone doesn't do the thing I have ordered, i'm going to fire them as well.

It's a good thing you're not a CEO then. Ignoring the expertise within the company, and preventing employees from doing their job (which in her case was to try Trumps order), would be quite foolish.

I'm going to suggest that you consider how the Volkswagen diesel scandal came about. Which is most likely:

* That lawyers and compliance managers stood up and did their job?

or

* That top brass made a decision, overruling legitimate opposition?

> I think you should be more worried about insert extremely generic anti-trump comment regarding perceived intelligence, narcissism, small hands, refusal to listen to experts, climate denial or other such comment

The comment or validity thereof?


I am a CEO. And yes I recognise the foolishness of poor management practices, as well as acting in a shortsighted or criminal manner. Perhaps we should differentiate between insubordination/disloyalty, which is what the parent comment is about, and some version of the Nuremberg defence, namely, I was told to do it and failed to process that it was an immoral or criminal act.

Both may get you fired; morally one is correct and the other isn't.

great chat.


So if you ordered something of dubious legality, and your top corporate lawyer suggested it was unlikely to pass a trial, you would just sack them and ask the next one the same thing again? Like you said in the parent comment.

This isn't behavior that should be encouraged, neither in you nor in Trump, and your original sentiment that we shouldn't worry about it isn't something I'd subscribe to.


>So if you ordered something of dubious legality, and your top corporate lawyer suggested it was unlikely to pass a trial, you would just sack them and ask the next one the same thing again?

At no point have I said I take a view that is often taken in HN, that is, if you can play the game and win, it doesn't matter how you do it. I actually don't think that.

You are inferring that I am because of your pro-trump bias and because i responded to the parent with insert generic content, which could be construed as being neutral/pro-trump. For the record, I think the mess Americans have created for themselves serves them right; is a sign of a broken democracy, an ignorant and uninformed populace where only extremism will get people to the polls. Unfortunately Australia is part of a world where the actions of a bigoted maniac will affect us; and I can hardly say that our political leadership is any better (although our democracy is significantly stronger with compulsory voting and preferential voting)


> >So if you ordered something of dubious legality, and your top corporate lawyer suggested it was unlikely to pass a trial, you would just sack them and ask the next one the same thing again?

> At no point have I said I take a view that is often taken in HN, that is, if you can play the game and win, it doesn't matter how you do it. I actually don't think that.

But you literally wrote this in your original post:

> If I was President/General/CEO and someone doesn't do the thing I have ordered, i'm going to fire them as well.

How else are we meant to interpret that?

On the last part I only have this to say: I don't have pro-trump bias. I am very anti-trump, but not as a premise, but rather as an end result of my rationality.


I mis-typed; it is clear that you have an anti trump bias from Your posting history. My previous comment should be interpreted as me feeling that you have reacted strongly against me under the assumption that I was pro trump, an assumption I have only weak evidence for.

>how else are we meant to interpret that

You are assuming malevolence in my theorised intentions and actions without having any basis for it. I think the best way to interpret that would be that I have a not unreasonable expectation of loyalty. Remember here that the parent comment specifically said

>The major worry for me is Trump's seeking to punish anyone who shows disloyalty.

Where we are in fact talking about loyalty and not the potential criminality or morality of the executive orders of a man who is has the best chance in a long while of taking us all into a world war


> You are assuming malevolence in my theorised intentions and actions without having any basis for it.

The only basis I have to possibly assume things from is what you write.

You made the comparison from someone disobeying an order based on a professional assessment that the order was unconstitutional - to an employee disobeying an order.

The only comparison in that case that would be apt would be an employee that is more knowledgable in their field than the CEO issuing the order.

If this is not what you meant, then you shouldn't have written it. It's not based on any bias from my side.

> Where we are in fact talking about loyalty and not the potential criminality or morality of the executive orders of a man who is has the best chance in a long while of taking us all into a world war

If this is from Trumps perspective, I might be inclined to agree, but if so, your original comparison makes even less sense. Dictators rely on loyalty, leaders listen to council, regardless of business or politics.

There's a difference between disobeying an order out of pettiness and out of your professional assessment.

You said you mis-typed, which is fair, I'm just not sure what you meant to say.

And on bias:

bias

noun

inclination or prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unfair.

No, I do not have a bias. I judge anyone only on what they say and do.


inclination or prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unfair. No, I do not have a bias. I judge anyone only on what they say and do.

Great, we would probably enjoy each other's company.

The only basis I have to possibly assume things from is what you write. You made the comparison from someone disobeying an order based on a professional assessment that the order was unconstitutional - to an employee disobeying an order.

Well I think we are interpreting the parent paragraph and my reply in totally different lights. As I point out elsewhere, I think there is a difference between a sackable offence through disloyalty, and not following an order because you don't agree with the validity of it, expert or not. I am not making any claim regarding the actual substance of the executive order; or whether trump's use of disloyal is 'correct' (I personally think it's a beatup) ; only that disloyalty is undermining and is a fireable offence..

>Dictators rely on loyalty, leaders listen to council, regardless of business or politics.

Mate, the whole fucking world revolves around loyalty; also known as friendship or cordial business relations to change spheres again. It holds democracies together just as much as dicktatorships. Doesn't make disloyalty any less of a fireable offence.

there's too much strong systemiser here on both sides. Anyway, not my country, and probably won't be one for much longer, which is going to have some pretty profound implications. Enjoy the fireworks and stay safe.


If Uber or Airbnb counsel refused to defend some of the dubiously legal practices that both companies practice, they'd be fired that minute.


That's a false equivalence.

It doesn't suggest that their respective CEOs disregard the counsel's input. If it's still relevant to pursue their corporate interest in very fresh legislative ground afterwards, that's another thing.

While I might be persuaded in general that amendments should be made and the constitution not be static, immigration isn't a new frontier. And in that area, it's not in need of revision.


The US has a Constitution. Being President/General/CEO doesn't mean you get to assume you're above the law.


Although it doesn't stop people from assuming that; and sometimes the law has a long lag time. I would also like to append my comments here I made Lowe down regarding the difference between insubordination/disloyalty (parent comment) and Nuremberg defence style actions


There's a difference between giving your boss honest feedback, and being obstructionist. Encouraging honesty is great, but at the end of the day, you still need to follow orders.


"just following orders...."


What about whistleblowers? Should they have just "followed orders" instead?


I think its about context.

If you are a whistleblower, and you claim something is illegal then I don't expect you to accurately make a case that it is so. You may have just felt it was illegal, when it was not and I'll give certain leeway in making the wrong decision there.

However if you are a lawyer, and not only that but the supreme prosecutor of the Federal government, you ought to be able to properly define why something is illegal not just publish a press release that essentially says "it's my gut-feeling this will fail".

She is supposed to make the best case possible for the presidency and allow judges to decide if something is illegal, and someone is guilty or not guilty. Simply saying "he's guilty, I'm sure, but no I can't tell you why" is not a solid answer.


She didn't execute his orders as president and she acted unprofessionally. Politico had a sensible article about it.


> If I understand it right this is the first time an AG has been relieved for purely political reasons.

I kind of thought you must be joking, since revolving AGs were a hallmark of the Bush Jr era, to legalize torture, etc. But in case not, here is a decent place to start:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dismissal_of_U.S._attorneys_...


Those were US attorneys.


Can Sally Yates sue for wrongful termination?


I think those people tend to "serve at the pleasure of the president".


Yes. Appointees typically give a signed but undated letter of resignation to the President when they accept the position.


From Sam Altman on Twitter: ".@SallyQYates, @ycombinator and many others would be delighted to give you a job and resources to continue your work defending American law."

https://twitter.com/sama/status/826262739202908160


Most likely response: who the fuck is Ycombinator, and why on earth would I want to work there?


She'd get to hang out with Peter Thiel.


It would be surprising if someone in such rarified political circles doesn't know one of the premier tech investment firms, especially considering that one of their partners has been hanging round the White House.


Why is Sam dragging Ycombinator into this?


Virtue signalling.


For the curious, the line of succession for AG after deputy goes:

1. U.S. Atty for E. D. Virgina (Now the current acting AG)

2. U.S. Atty for D. Minnesota

3. U.S. Atty for D. Arizona

Interestingly, this is set by executive order so it may be changeable - though limited to those eligible under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, I think. (And I guess we can argue all day over the constitutionality of that under the appointments clause)

Source: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2010/1...


interestingly there seems to be a new executive order 13762, from the final days of the obama whitehouse, that changed the Justice Department order of succession, yet Trump seems to have followed the order that you mentioned/linked

saw a tweet raising this point after having just read your comment. not sure what it means but thought your comment was very interesting, so... here's some more detail.


That's really strange! I wonder if he may have followed the wrong order, or or if the vacancies reform act gives him some leeway here...

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2017/0...


“I think a lot of the voters who vote for Trump take Trump seriously but not literally. And so when they hear things like the Muslim comment or the wall comment or things like that, the question is not ‘Are you going to build a wall like the Great Wall of China?’ or, you know, ‘How exactly are you going to enforce these tests?’ What they hear is ‘We’re going to have a saner, more sensible immigration policy.’"

-Peter Thiel, 2016

I guess to Thiel, a saner, more sensible immigration policy involves invoking 9/11 to ban people from 7 countries not involved in that attack from the U.S, including permanent residents on a legal path to citizenship and holders of valid visas. All done with zero warning via executive order and without conferring with DHS or DOJ.


Peter Thiel will go down in history as Trump/Bannon's useful idiot. He might have come up in short term betting correctly on Trump but he is down on long. If he thinks that he is going to get a piece of the pie after Kushner/Tillerson/Preibus(establishment) have had their take, then he is in for a cake.


What I think alot of Trump supporters are taking seriously is the phenomena that is the left feeding off It's own hyperbole, it's pretty disturbing.


And a lot of us on both sides of the former partisan political spectrum are wonder what - if any - boundaries Trump supporters have past which they would not defend the actions of this administration.


There aren't any, and I'm serious about it. Unless Trump does something that is totally and obviously anti-populist, like raise taxes for everyone by 20% or send in the National Guard into a city.

It took me a while to understand why but you kinda have to see where Trump supporters get their worldview. Unfortunately, they use Facebook/Twitter a lot, and have been bombarded for years and years by outrageous fake news. When they try to debate some of this fake news, they are immediately dismissed by the reasonable sort who know fake news is fake news. They see shares/feeds from their friends about mostly the same thing. End result: an unreasonable hatred of the left and democrats. And an acceptance of Trump: just because he ain't a "damn liberal".


> It took me a while to understand why but you kinda have to see where Trump supporters get their worldview. Unfortunately, they use Facebook/Twitter a lot, and have been bombarded for years and years by outrageous fake news. When they try to debate some of this fake news, they are immediately dismissed by the reasonable sort who know fake news is fake news. They see shares/feeds from their friends about mostly the same thing. End result: an unreasonable hatred of the left and democrats. And an acceptance of Trump: just because he ain't a "damn liberal".

I don't even think it's the fake news or etc, it's the moral highground/horse that the far left stands on, and is unwilling to debate, talk, communicate.

Regardless of all this political shitstorm, i am quite sickened by the thought control that the far left seems so unwilling to yield from. They have so many dismissive weapons in their toolbag of verbal war that make hope for discussion a fickle thing. A lot of people have very unpopular views, either on the edge or over it from what the far left believes, and we all need to be willing to discuss. No ones views should be dismissed. Once we start doing that, a "surprise" voter turnout happens - ala Trump.


The term "fake news" is totally misleading because it conceals political agenda behind it. Yet it is all over the place. Did everybody forgot what propaganda is?


"End result: an unreasonable hatred of the left and democrats."

Is it irrational to hate those who find your religion, race, gender, education level, employment, state of residence and political affiliation to be "deplorable"? After all, the Democrats started it.

A near perfect consensus of legacy media self admittedly being politically aligned with the Democrat party doesn't mean their propaganda is true and any other political spin is fake news, it just means its dominant in the legacy media, which is rapidly losing influence, leading to people not under single party control gaining leadership positions...


> Is it irrational to hate those who find your religion, race, gender, education level, employment, state of residence and political affiliation to be "deplorable"? After all, the Democrats started it.

No they did not "start" anything. And lets not even get into the whole business of who started what. Its true that liberals do find racist xenophobes deplorable. Its true that liberals do find people who try to impose restrictions on the rights of anyone in the community for their reproductive rights, sexual preferences and gender identification to be deplorable.

> A near perfect consensus of legacy media self admittedly being politically aligned with the Democrat party doesn't mean their propaganda is true and any other political spin is fake news, it just means its dominant in the legacy media, which is rapidly losing influence, leading to people not under single party control gaining leadership positions...

They are NOT aligned with Democratic party. They are aligned with reason and facts and are pretty fearless about reporting on those.


I don't think fake news is a useful term, it never has been. The media has been flooded with both outright fake news and more importantly missing news for years, when it was supporting the Democrat world view.

For instance, just go look at how often you can read the Russia "invaded" Ukraine or Russia "invaded" Crimea. The Russian army is huge and what's left of the Ukrainian army is made of fresh conscripts. If those events had actually happened then the Russian flag would have been waving over buildings in Kiev within 24 hours, there would have been videos of it all over the world. You can't hide an invasion of an entire country, that's not what the word means. Yet these conquered cities are mysteriously missing.

What actually happened is a civil war in Ukraine with two opposing sides from the same country who hate each other, one side trying to break away by force. The west supports west Ukraine with materials and training, Russia probably supports east Ukraine/Donbass in a similar way, although the west admitted they were doing it and Russia never did. But let's put that to one side and assume both were at it. That's not an invasion, that is at most a proxy war.

And what happened in Crimea was even simpler, they had a vote and voted to join Russia just like they did twice in the 1990's (but were ignored). Western/Ukrainian polling and journalists have visited since and didn't find any evidence that the vote was not representative of what people there actually think.

Yet fake news stories that talk of invasion, literally fake as in "reporting on things that never happened", goes largely unremarked, especially by the kinds of people who hate Trump. They usually aren't even aware how thoroughly they've been fooled.

If you want an example of how people are manipulated through missing news rather than fake news, the recent Greenwald article on a SEAL Team raid in Yemen and how CNN reported it is a good one.

So "fake news" is the kind of thing that both sides can levy at the other, with some justification, but trying to claim one side or another is smarter than the rest is not going to work. People will just tune it out, exactly as you report.


I am speechless at this revisionist view of recent history.

Two things:

1. If anyone is confused about the Crimea invasion simply go back and read the primary sources. Read newspapers from overseas, especially those in different languages. No one believed that the recent invasion of Crimea began as a civil war/proxy war. It had become that, sure, but let's keep the facts straight.

2. To the poster: how can you be so sure of global events? Your viewpoint is the accepted perspective of the Russian government. Does that not give you pause, to repeat the words of a clearly self-interested party?


I did read the sources, at the time it was happening. And I, too, am shocked at the total and successful rewrite of recent history the western media and government establishments have pulled off. It is stunningly Orwellian and extremely scary.

Now. Please show me where a shot was fired during this so-called "invasion" of Crimea? Please explain to me why all the evidence suggests that the people who live there are happy to have been "invaded"? These are simply not normal uses of the word "invasion", which normally involve shooting rather than voting.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2015/03/20/one-year-af...

2. How can I be so sure? I remember what was reported at the time. There were plenty of news stories that covered what was happening. I remember fact checking and them often discovering blatant propaganda inside, but the whole "Russia invaded Ukraine and Crimea and you're crazy if you remember otherwise" line didn't start until long after the events in question. If you go back and read the stories in the press at the time they only talked about "pro Russian forces" or "pro Russian rebels". No invasion, no army.

I remember noticing newspapers just starting to repeat one day that what had happened was not in fact a civil war between pro-EU and pro-Russian forces, it was an invasion, but that happened after Ukraine had dropped out of the daily news cycle. I remember at the time the sequence of events that led to the breakout of civil war there. The overthrow of the rather poor but still democratically elected government by people who wanted Ukraine to align with the EU, the outbreak of fighting, the supposedly free and fair "elections" that happened whilst the revolutionary government was busy shelling its own citizens. The flight of refugees from east Ukraine towards Russia instead of away from it.

What actually happened is not a secret. You can go re-read original coverage, original sources, go do some research. Here, I'll help you. Here's a story from 2014 in the fanatically pro-EU and anti-Russian Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/10/donetsk-refere...

Read this article and observe the following things:

1. The fight is described as being between Kiev and separatists/pro-Russian forces, or in Kiev's term, "terrorists". Not the Russian army.

2. The only mention of Putin or the Russian government is in a paragraph saying the separatists had possibly wanted to delay the independence referendum they were trying to organise there, because Putin was signalling he was not willing to lend them military support or absorb the region.

Where in this story is there discussion of a Russian invasion? It isn't there because no such invasion ever happened. At most, small groups of special forces were sent in to aid the rebels covertly in a proxy war, which is no more than what the west did (the US and UK sent soldiers and equipment to support the Ukrainian army). Talk of an actual invasion appeared much later.

Now, saying my viewpoint is the accepted perspective of the Russian government is pure ad hominem. So what? By stating that my views are revisionism and that in fact there was an invasion, you are doing the same thing: repeating the words of clearly self interested parties, namely the western governments and the media who support them, who want Ukraine to have close relations with the EU instead of Russia.

You can read an essay with a similar viewpoint by an American journalist here:

https://consortiumnews.com/2015/02/09/wretched-us-journalism...


>just go look at how often you can read the Russia "invaded" Ukraine or Russia "invaded" Crimea.

putting your soldiers onto someone else's turf without permission equals invasion...


Exactly, there were "rebels" driving around in Russian armoured vehicles, using modern Russian military equipment, just without insignias on their uniforms. This story[1] is one of many from a few years back about poorly-disguised Russian troops who were deployed in Ukraine.

Vice News did an amusing piece of reporting where they tracked down a Russian soldier who was deployed in Ukraine based on his social media presence[2].

The idea that Russian troops weren't involved is laughable, obvious propaganda that was aimed mostly at the Russian population, not really meant to fool the rest of the world.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/news/defence-and-security-blog/2...

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zssIFN2mso


Please re-read my post.

I say explicitly that both sides in the civil war were being supported by US/UK and Russia respectively, with soldiers and equipment. However, this does not mean the USA invaded Ukraine, nor did Russia invade Ukraine.

Perhaps you guys are all using the word "invasion" to mean something different to what I'm using it to mean, but in my book a country can't quietly invade another. Especially not countries with wildly superior militaries. Invasions are kind of hard to miss. Nobody in Iraq or Afghanistan was in any doubt that their countries had been invaded by the USA.


> Invasions are kind of hard to miss

and nobody missed that the russians invaded ukraine...


Speaking for myself, I'm mixed on this particular EO. I don't like the restrictions placed on people who were already determined to be legal residents via green cards / visas whatever. Fortunately, I think that's going to get struck down. So my support of this current EO is mixed. When would I not support him? Had he tried to do something permanent, had he tried to go forward with a ban all Muslims approach. Those both seem pretty clearly wrong to me.

I find the hyperbole around this EO kind of absurd though. We're talking about two bans of 120 and 90 days respectively, from a list that was generated via a similar ban in 2011 and which doesn't actually specify any religion. In so far as I can tell, due to the 'persecuted religious minority' aspect of the EO, a Sunni in a predominantly Shia nation and vice versa would still qualify. It also lays out being open to reviews on an individual basis.

I think it's overall mixed, and probably not the best way to get this done. I also think claims of fascism, literally Hitler and other hyperbole are overblown. It's also not a Muslim ban. Even if he stopped all people from those 7 countries permanently, there's still something like one billion Muslims still eligible to enter the country.


> We're talking about two bans of 120 and 90 days respectively

Proponents say they are temporary measures, so that there is time to 'figure out what is going on'. No matter how you feel about this EO it was implemented in sloppy and unprofessional manner. It was poorly written, Agencies were not notified or instructed on the exact intent, there was no time for review from Legal Council. How am I supposed to extrapolate that this farce will produce better immigration enforcement than the already stringent vetting that was in place? When they have no better alternative I have to predict that these blanket bans get extended for 'safety reasons'.

> due to the 'persecuted religious minority' aspect of the EO, a Sunni in a predominantly Shia nation and vice versa would still qualify. It also lays out being open to reviews on an individual basis.

This is great conjecture, but it is unclear, at this time, if as implemented a Sunni qualifies for this status. You have frontline DHS agents deciding these case by case reviews without clear orders. I don't believe they will err on the side of possibly getting it wrong. Denying will always be the default.

> It's also not a Muslim ban.

It's obviously not a muslim ban, but that is who will be disproportionally affected.


I don't disagree with anything you've said here, it's pretty spot on in my estimation, I just don't think it's a sky is falling kind of situation. I was trying to answer the question: 'What would it take for his supporters to turn away from him?' and keep it in the context of why this thing just isn't an abandon ship situation, though it is certainly a fumble in a number of ways.

|Proponents say they are temporary measures, so that there is time to 'figure out what is going on'

Wasn't there a report from DHS in 2015 or so saying that it was the case ISIS was looking to take advantage of refugee programs to get agents into various Western nations? And further, that dept. heads felt some concern about the efficacy of our vetting processes?

Whether such a vetting process could ever exist is unlikely, but it would seem this is kind of a 'get your bearings' order. Your criticisms still stand, of course, I'm just pointing out it's not a totally baseless idea.


The current refugee vetting process is very rigorous and would be a terrible avenue for ISIS agents to get into the US and other western nations, although I'm sure they would try. The process I went through to get a security clearance was about an 1/8 of the refugee vetting process and it was an incredibly invasive process. Obviously no vetting is 100% effective, but I'm highly skeptical that there will be a better process in 3 months. Then do we continue to ban these people our of fear?

As you said the question is: 'What would it take for his supporters to turn away from him?' Trump supporters may not not have breaking point when it comes to helping those that they don't have a perceived connection to.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/29/us/refugee-ve...


|Trump supporters may not not have breaking point when it comes to helping those that they don't have a perceived connection to.

This is kind of absurd. I think there would definitely be a point where they wouldn't support him on this. It's just that a 120 / 90 day ban of countries considered failed states / enemies isn't it. This is just a more subtle form of demonization. You're basically saying 'They'll agree to anything!'. I don't buy it. But who knows?

I think what is interesting is: What did it take to turn away from Obama? For me it was continued expansion of executive power, continued pursuit of destabilizing nations in the Middle East and continued support of erosion of civil liberties largely via domestic spying programs.

I'm expecting my answer to the Trump question to end up being roughly the same. I'll be pleasantly surprised if any of the above are missing. I'll be unpleasantly surprised if anything new is added. So it goes.


Green cards holders are basically citizens. You can revoke their lawful permanent residence for well-specified (legally) reasons, but while they hold it they are entitled to the full protection of all US law.

People that should have had that protection had their right of habeas corpus violated, one of the most fundamental rights that exists in this country. It was done without the consulation of the legislative branch. It was (and is) continued after it was ruled illegal by the judicial branch.

There isn't any hyperbole here. This is facially fascist. Hopefully it marks a low point and they learn from it.


From my first comment:

|I don't like the restrictions placed on people who were already determined to be legal residents via green cards / visas whatever.

Why argue with me about it if I agree with you that it's bad? Also, as I understand, it's been removed anyway.

|There isn't any hyperbole here. This is facially fascist.

I know this is just another way of saying 'literally Hitler', but it clearly doesn't mean what you think it means.[0]

[0]: http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Fascism.html


> it's pretty disturbing.

It's far worse than the election cycle. My own read on the situation is that a lot of folks have wrapped up their ego/identity in opposition.

I'm incredibly happy to see so many people participating & engaging with the government. It reminds me of the satisfying experience of watching the enormous online response to Collateral Damage / CISPA,CISA,etc... / PRISM / and all the rest.

We've seen that online protest isn't as effective as we would like. And I'm thrilled to have discussions with my friends in which they express their desire to participate in government in a direct way (trying to become elected, for instance).

I think it's a lot of "millennial" participation, too... which makes me wonder how similar this is to the Vietnam protests, I'm to young to know.

But yes... it's a nasty spin-cycle, and the news all seems to have a stench of fairness to it.


Matt Levine commented on how Thiel's observation has worked out so far [1]:

> And what has happened so far? Immigration bans (with more to come), abandoned trade agreements, "alternative facts," unprompted promises to bring back torture. And what has not happened so far? Tax policy is a complete mystery, with an unclear and walked-back promise to impose a border tax. Health-care policy is even more mysterious. Trump has made vague promises to cut regulations by 75 percent, but his specific regulatory focus seems to be on increasing penalties on companies that move operations abroad. Everything Trump literally said is coming literally true; everything the serious people heard remains an unserious hope. Businesses may eventually get the tax and regulatory reform they wanted, but it's not a priority.

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-01-30/immigrati...


I think Thiel overall was right, in that Trump would still be liked by his base even if he didn't build a literal wall. By talking about the wall, Trump was signaling his priorities, and his base were just happy to have someone who they felt had the right priorities, whether or not a literal wall would get built.

I think Thiel just didn't think Trump would go through with it after winning, because he thinks Trump would see that the costs of the actual wall would outweigh the disapproval of voters, and that he could pursue a hard-line against immigration in less costly ways.


I thought Thiel had cut to the heart of the matter with that statement before the election, but now think he is wrong, for exactly the reasons you state. His statement implies that we should not worry about Trump's crazier ideas, because he'll be tempered by advisors and feedback. The assumption there is that he listens and acts on advice, and that he chooses the right advisors.

The evidence so far points to this not being the case. Trump's statements past and present should be taken literally, at face value. What he says and has said is what you will get, and he is making a strenuous effort to deliver on every single one of his promises (even crazy ones), because he believes them to be correct. After this week I now firmly believe if he could ban all muslims tomorrow, he would do so, and damn the consequences. Rescinding green cards en-masse is incredibly destructive to the reputation of America, it is really quite reckless as well as cruel.

So it turns out Thiel was wrong - Trump has been and will continue to go through with his promises to the letter in many important areas. There are some areas (like healthcare or prosecuting Hilary Clinton) where Thiel was probably right in that he won't really bother with them, but only because Trump really doesn't care about them.


The thing about the Mexican border wall is that it already exists. It's hundreds of miles long.

National Geographic shot some panoramas [0] but otherwise you don't hear too much about it in the news. I guess "lengthening a wall" doesn't fire up the base as much as "building a wall."

[0] http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/01/what-the-us-mexic...


I think Thiel was right too, but that doesn't mean it's a good thing and that real people are not harmed.


This glib literally/seriously trope will not be judged kindly by history.


* The ban is a temporary measure and has nothing to do with religion. President Obama signed a list of countries into law for enhanced visa scrutiny and President Trump used that exact list without modification, directly referencing the statute in which it was codified. They'd already been identified as terrorism hotspots that warranted additional scrutiny from immigration officials by the Obama administration. Trump just took it a step further and temporarily halted immigration from these nations while his administration reviews the policies to ensure they're sufficient.

* Alien permanent residents from the affected countries are not currently banned. They never were. Neither are dual citizens.

* It is true that non-diplomatic visas have been temporary suspended (not canceled), but this applies at border crossings only; persons currently in the country on those visas do not have to leave.

* There has been 18 months of warning in the form of the Presidential campaign. Trump promised something like this up and down. He was taken seriously, not literally, and he seriously implemented a 90-day stay on the travel of foreign nationals from areas with high terrorist activity, using the exact list that President Obama signed into law. He did not literally implement a ban on Muslims, or indeed, any other religious group, despite the literal meaning of his prior comments that did explicitly mention Muslims. Likewise, his statements about "the wall" seem to be flexible to the point of something more like multiple layers of well-patrolled fencing.

To me, "seriously but not literally" appears to be holding up really well. Trump is not betraying the intent of the voters who elected him, but he is also consulting with his advisors and legal experts and implementing things that accomplish the intention within the constraints of practicality and legality.


> The ban is a temporary measure and has nothing to do with religion.

As an example, Rudy Giuliani, who seems to have been involved in drafting it, explains that it does: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/01/29/tr... and also explains why the language of the order does not contain a religious test.

> Alien permanent residents from the affected countries are not currently banned. They never were.

This is just plain false, the "immigrant and non-immigrant" text was part of the original executive order, and the DHS spokeswoman said it applied to greencard holders. Later the administration seems to have reversed their stance on this. (Here is a later overview: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-immigration-bann...)


>As an example, Rudy Giuliani, who seems to have been involved in drafting it, explains that it does

From the article: "And what we did was, we focused on, instead of religion, danger — the areas of the world that create danger for us,” Giuliani told Pirro. “Which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible. And that's what the ban is based on. It's not based on religion. It's based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.

You're sending me an article that quotes Giuliani as explicitly stating "it's not about religion, it's about terrorists" as proof that it's about religion? Am I reading this right?

>This is just plain false, the "immigrant and non-immigrant" text was part of the original executive order, and the DHS spokeswoman said it applied to greencard holders.

I addressed that here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13507180


Read the article more carefully. From the article:

> “How did the president decide the seven countries?” she asked. “Okay, talk to me.”

“I'll tell you the whole history of it,” Giuliani responded eagerly. “So when [Trump] first announced it, he said, 'Muslim ban.' He called me up. He said, 'Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.' "

Giuliani said he assembled a “whole group of other very expert lawyers on this,” including former U.S. attorney general Michael Mukasey, Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Tex.) and Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.).

“And what we did was, we focused on, instead of religion, danger — the areas of the world that create danger for us,” Giuliani told Pirro. “Which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible. And that's what the ban is based on. It's not based on religion. It's based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.”

The story goes:

1. Trump phone call to Giuliani: "Muslim ban. Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally."

2. Giuliani assembles "a whole group of other very expert lawyers": “And what we did was, we focused on, instead of religion, danger — the areas of the world that create danger for us. Which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible. And that's what the ban is based on. It's not based on religion. It's based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.”

It is clear that in this executive order, the intent and desire (Muslim ban) is imagined, then the subterfuge (the focus on law) applied, contradicting your original point:

> The ban is a temporary measure and has nothing to do with religion.


We're reading the same story and coming to different conclusions.

I don't dispute that Trump at one point said "Muslim ban". Giuliani appears to indicate that Trump knew this was illegal in the form that it was literally said it on the campaign trail and that Trump called him up and asked him to figure out how to implement what was meant, not necessarily what was literally said, in a legal fashion -- "seriously, but not literally".

>It is clear that in this executive order, the intent and desire (Muslim ban) is imagined, then the subterfuge (the focus on law) applied, contradicting your original point

No, it doesn't contradict my original point at all. It is clear that Trump meant that he wanted to exclude terrorists, not Muslims. If the goal was to exclude as many Muslims as possible, they did a terrible job, because they completely missed the countries with the 5 biggest Muslim populations. The raw populations of the banned countries add up to about 140 million; even if we assume 100% of those people are Muslim, which they aren't, that still leaves more than 90% of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims potentially eligible for entrance to the United States. And the whole thing expires in 90 days. Not a very effective "Muslim ban".

This goes back to the same thing as the campaign. Seriously, but not literally. Trump said Muslim ban on the campaign trail, that is not in dispute. The issue now is whether he really meant a literal ban on Muslims, or whether he just meant a ban on the bad guys that are blowing us up.

Based on his EO, it appears that he meant the latter, but of course there will be people who refuse to let go of their narrative and assume the former because it makes it easier to justify their outrage.


According to Guilanni, and to the president himself, that's exactly what he meant. There's just the small matter that what he wants violates the law and human decency, so they've had to temper it, for now.

President Trump has turned out to want literally what candidate Trump proposed. Thiel was wrong in a fundamental way.

As to your supposed impartiality I think you should be honest about your support for Trump, not dissemble, here is what you said about the press lower down -

Given their [media] hostile history with Trump, it's no surprise that they'd issue misleading, incredible, and fabricated screeds as he goes about fulfilling the campaign promises that got him elected.


> There's just the small matter that what he wants violates the law

No, that's exactly what the Giuliani story doesn't indicate: it indicates the exact opposite, which is that they did this legally.

Incidentally, I think it's possible to support neither the President nor the media. The National Review had a recent article, whose title was something like 'Trump's order is wrong, but the Left is insane.' It's entirely possible to disagree with everyone who's shouting.


What he wants violates the law:

"a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States"

not what he did (the EO), which debatable in terms of legality, the EO could be legal as the president has a lot of power on immigration, though the former AG thinks not.

Re the media question, it was just an example of a recycled talking point in the OP's comments, which tipped me off that they are in fact a Trump supporter.


>Re the media question, it was just an example of a recycled talking point in the OP's comments, which tipped me off that they are in fact a Trump supporter.

You say this like there's something bad about it, first. There are lots of Trump supporters, or at least Trump voters, and their opinions have every potential to be valid. What's the point of this political shame game? It only hurts your position overall and such smugness may very well have played a large role in your side's election loss.

Second, I voted for Trump, but I don't consider myself a "Trump supporter" as such -- I'm not a big fan of Donald Trump, as I previously explained, and I don't have any specific personal opinion on Trump's EOs, pending further research.

Thirdly, as we've also already established, one need not be pro-Trump to recognize that the media is anti-Trump. That's not a "recycled talking point", that's a real thing. You may disagree if you wish, but your blatant hostility and denigration of others is not appropriate for this forum. You should read PG's essay at http://paulgraham.com/disagree.html.

It is just as fair to say that Mr. Trump's EO is more reflective of his actual opinion than his campaign statements as it is to do the opposite. That argument is zero sum because no one can know anyone else's true intentions.

You seem to be having difficulty grasping some of the nuance here, and trying to whip up a hysterical mob reaction. This is a thread about technical legal topics such as separation of powers and constitutional obligations, etc. In the future, you may wish to go visit the Huffington Post or something of that nature for the dismissive, mean-spirited political bigotry that you're attempting to use to pollute HN.


Apologies for being off-hand or derisive, it wasn't meant in that spirit, nor to shame you, it was in the context of your claim of neutrality further downthread. My side certainly is not Clinton/Obama/Democrats, but I don't agree with Trump and am concerned about him as president after the first week.


I am neutral on this issue. At this point my personal opinions have been widely exposed so everyone should have clear perspective on where I'm coming from, which I'm more than happy to provide. But even with this reply, you seem to be persisting in the claim that I'm not neutral as it relates to this EO on immigration based on the fact that I voted for Trump and/or that I recognize a strong anti-Trump bias in the media.

That's what's grating here. You're saying that you don't intend to shame or denigrate, but then you make claims that appear intended to discredit me based on my opinions on unrelated issues, like media bias.

A vote for Trump does not automatically mean one endorses/agrees with every action he takes whilst in office, nor does acknowledgement of the mostly blatantly biased and hostile reporting in modern history.

Anyway, I do appreciate the apology and your participation in the discussion. Echo chambers are very tiring, and HN is one of the only places one can come and have this type of debate with only the minor downside of losing 50 karma overnight. :P


>As to your supposed impartiality I think you should be honest about your support for Trump, not dissemble, here is what you said about the press lower down -

First, thinking that the media is anti-Trump does not automatically make one pro-Trump.

Second, being pro-Trump does not make one automatically pro-strong-vetting.

As for my personal positions, which are not relevant to anything but which I'm more than happy to disclose based on your expression of interest, I voted for Donald Trump and I've stated that on HN in multiple places before.

Immigration is not a major issue for me and particularly anti-Muslim rhetoric is a major turnoff for me; I have a lot of respect for Islam as a religion and I've studied it casually for many years. I think, in general, Muslims are great neighbors and community partners. I am not Muslim, but I am religious, and I've enjoyed working with Muslims on topics of mutual interest to religious people.

I don't like Donald Trump very much and I started out strongly opposed to him. I warmed up to him only over the final 6 weeks prior to the election or so. Prior to that, I was considering writing in a vote, and I probably would've if I didn't live in a swing state.

My personal preference for a presidential candidate would've been one of several candidates that was in the running earlier in the election cycle (preferably Rand Paul, though to be frank I would still like Ron).

I don't know enough about immigration from the blacklisted nations to know a) whether migrants from those countries do, in fact, pose more risk to the United States than migrants from other countries; b) whether that risk is substantial enough to warrant a travel stoppage/visa suspension of the type we've seen; c) whether a review or change in our vetting procedures will have any effect; or d) whether this ban will have larger negative ramifications in PR and internal turmoil than it would have benefit in implementation.

Because I don't know any of those things, I don't know if it's a smart thing to do or not. Why are you arguing with me about this and trying to tell me I don't know my own opinions? I don't get it.


a) Foreigners from those seven nations have killed zero (0) Americans in terrorist attacks on US soil between 1975 and the end of 2015 (as opposed to say Saudi Arabia).

b) See a) above

c) The deliberate effect was immediately sending back green card holders and dual-citizens arriving at the border, this is wrong, both morally and pragmatically (damages US standing and the value of citizenship).

d) See the large worldwide protests at the ban.


Right, I understand some of the arguments in favor or against. But I haven't researched enough to develop a firm opinion. Do you expect these one-sentence summaries of the liberal position to change that?


I don't think the conservative/liberal dichotomy is useful, consider the points on their merits.


> dual-citizens

To be clear, you mean like Iranian-British, right? If one of the citizenships were American I don't think it applied.


How do we know when to take Trump literally or not? When he says "build the wall", does he mean a literal wall or a figurative one? When he said he has a plan to defeat ISIS, or a plan to replace Obamacare, is that a literal plan?

Are we cherry-picking his words based on what our personal ideologies are? Are we rationalising?

The fact that he lies blatantly without any regard for consequences (or remorse) makes his message even more muddled. Is this a hallmark of a great leader?


I have no position on whether or not Trump is a great leader. Is that the argument we're having here? I thought it was about whether Trump is filling his controversial campaign promises seriously or literally. So far, it appears that he is filling them seriously, but not literally.

The law is the law. We are governed by the law according to its plain meaning. Trump's intentions are irrelevant when interpreting the law. Like other politicians, his campaign statements are also irrelevant when interpreting the law. The law is interpreted according to its plain meaning, barring scrivener's errors or other interpretations that would cause an obviously absurd or extreme outcome.

Up to this point, Trump's EOs appear legally sound, even if some people don't like their content. A court of law will eventually have to hear arguments and rule one way or the other based on the specific details. On the other hand, many of Trump's campaign promises were facially illegal or discriminatory as literally described. It is left to the reader to determine whether Trump's EOs or campaign statements is more true to his original intention, but it doesn't matter as far as actual implementation and governance goes.

Generally, I would say that if something sounds bombastic, illegal, or extreme, it's probably more figurative than literal, but who can really say? It's like dealing with anyone else. You have to feel them out and make a probabilistic determination about what they meant by some comment they said the other day, and whether that was literal or not.

That is absolutely not the way that most legally-minded politicians have done things up to this point. But it's the way Trump does things. I can't answer for his intentions and I have neither the obligation nor the intention to do so.


> Trump's intentions are irrelevant when interpreting the law.

They are not irrelevant when determining whether his actions comply with statutory and Constitutional provisions which preclude actions directed toward certain ends.

Intent is quite often relevant in the application of law to particular sets of facts.


According to sources cited by the New York Times, the initial application to green card holders was quite intentional:

> Mr. Kelly’s department had suggested green card holders be exempted from the order, but Mr. Bannon and Mr. Miller, a hard-liner on immigration, overruled him, according to two American officials.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/29/us/stephen-bannon-donald-...


I checked twice, and this doesn't seem to be in the Opinion section, but it is dripping wet with editorial. I read a lot of NYT, but with pieces like this it's really hard to find the news in between the ranting.


Guliani is not the President. Trump is, and Bannon is a top advisor. Trump went to Guliani asking for a Muslim ban and asking how to dress it up; Guliani complied (in a really, really incompetent fashion.)

Bannon's views are quite available from the history of Breitbart reporting, and from his interviews (Asian CEOs.) Motives matter when the executive branch has as much power as it does now (and that power is so concentrated in figures like Bannon.)


>Motives matter

Judicial interpretation generally takes the opposite tack, reading law according to its "plain meaning" rather than an imagined/assumed intent, to prevent just such bias and editorialization as you're displaying here (which, obviously, can be extremely damaging when mingled with governance).

Impute whatever intentions you wish on your favorite boogeymen, it doesn't change the text of the law under which Americans are governed.


Judicial interpretation is generally is embroiled in a partisan fight over originalism vs. substantive/contextual/... canons. The most recent case of the Supreme Court rejecting "plain meaning" was Obamacare, where it was decided that "State" in "an Exchange established by the State" also includes those established by the federal government.

But I doubt you'll even need to show that the EO started with the wish to implement a Muslim Ban, because it is doubtful that their efforts to soften it until it is legal were successful. As an analogy: Would a company policy never to employ a woman born in odd-numbered years be discriminatory?

If you insist on "no, because it doesn't discriminate against all women", how about a policy against hiring any women who's current age is even? That must then also be non-discriminatory, right?

Now what if a company were to implement both policies? Can two non-discriminatory policies add up to something discriminatory?


> The ban is a temporary measure and has nothing to do with religion.

When there are exceptions involving religious minorities in the EO, there is a lot about religion


> President Obama signed a list of countries into law

> using the exact list that President Obama signed into law

Yes, it's the same list of countries... with much, much broader restrictions placed upon them in this instance, to the point that some of the restrictions may violate the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (point[0], counterpoint[1]).

0. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/opinion/trumps-immigratio...

1. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/444371/donald-trump-ex...


opinion columns might not be the best sources of news,

here is another article by the NY times which gives a much more neutral review of its legality.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/30/us/politics/trump-immigra...

With me, I'm noticing my lawyer friends in America seem split on the issue, some think it's legal others thing it is illegal but my reading suggests that it is legal. Yes it does violate laws of congress on the issue, but the constitution gives the president, not congress the power over foreign affairs.


It's a matter for the judiciary to determine exactly whether an obscure law is contradicted or not and whether that law supersedes the President's authority to issue EOs to the contrary. Not the AG's role, especially since the matter at hand is not prosecutorial discretion but merely the DoJ's ability to prepare a fair legal defense for President Trump's order. Why should a judge not be able to hear what the DoJ can trudge up? Would the hearing be fair if Ms. Yates' rule was allowed to stand?

No one denies that President Trump's order is more restrictive, nor that it's inconvenient for the people whose travel plans have been temporarily disrupted. The point is that Trump did not pull this out of thin air. The countries had been previously identified as potential sources of malicious actors. It seems perfectly sensible for a new administration with a significantly different perspective to temporarily suspend travel to/from such high-risk blocks while the vetting procedures are evaluated.


> It's a matter for the judiciary to determine

I'm pretty sure any oath of office, including those in the executive, include the protection of the constitution and bill of rights. To leave the defence of the constitution solely in the hands of the judiciary is terribly dangerous, especially considering how politicised that branch has become.

> It seems perfectly sensible [..] to temporarily suspend travel to/from such high-risk blocks while the vetting procedures are evaluated.

There are enough articles out there why it's not reasonable (mostly the fact that there haven't been any attacks from citizens of those countries in the US, that it would have been reasonable to continue the SQ while any review is ongoing, that the review could have been done during the transition etc.)

The acting AG's issues where not about "reasonable", but "legal". Specifically – with regards to the actual cases she would have had to defend – the legality of removing people holding permanent residency permits.

The illegality of removing green card holders is pretty obvious. To quote the Department of Homeland Security:

As a permanent resident (green card holder), you have the right to:

- Live permanently in the United States provided you do not commit any actions that would make you removable under immigration law

- Work in the United States at any legal work of your qualification and choosing. (Please note that some jobs will be limited to U.S. citizens for security reasons)

- Be protected by all laws of the United States, your state of residence and local jurisdictions

Your Responsibilities as a Permanent Resident

As a permanent resident, you are:

- Required to obey all laws of the United States the states, and localities

- Required to file your income tax returns and report your income to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and state taxing authorities - Expected to support the democratic form of government and not to change the government through illegal means - Required, if you are a male age 18 through 25, to register with the Selective Service

https://www.uscis.gov/green-card/after-green-card-granted/ri...


Nitpicks over specific laws do not justify invocation of the oath of office. Despite what this thread is trying to pretend, it is not conventional for the AG to play SCOTUS and pre-emptively declare the administration's position indefensible.

Ms. Yates has not offered any legal rationale for her position. She is failing to uphold the Constitution by undermining the operation of the executive branch and the authority of the chief executive without a compelling constitutional cause.

In principle, you're correct that AGs should decline to participate in the implementation of clearly unconstitutional instructions. However, no such plain and obvious unconstitutionality exists in this case. There's nothing even close. All actual legal complaints raised to this point involve potential collisions with obscure, decades-old laws. It's the judiciary's role to handle that type of conflict.


See above: Green Cards confer full protection of law, including entry, to the extend of rights afforded to citizens. The exceptions are limited to people committing crimes or leaving the US for prolonged times. That is an exhaustive list (other laws include a generic clause like "and as deemed necessary by the Department of...").

EO cannot break laws, only modify their implementation. There is no room for interpretation. You could argue that the right of entry is not in the constitution – but I'm pretty sure even Scalia would have found a way to argue that US citizens have constitutional right to entry into the US (It's probably not in the bill of rights because it's too obvious)

See also the Watergate precedent: the AG refused to fire the special prosecutor investigating Nixon, in defiance of a direct order by the President. His replacement also refused and was fired, only the third in line complied. Those sacrifices went a long way to create the political climate in which the (now universally recognised as such) crook Nixon had no choice but to resign.


You're going all over the place here. I understand your opinion that Mr. Trump's EO is illegal. That's fine, but it's not relevant, unless you're a federal judge who likes to post on HN in his free time? And even then, it's irrelevant until this case comes before the bench and gets a fair hearing.

In the Saturday Night Massacre, the two AGs in question did resign rather than carry out Mr. Nixon's order. They didn't claim a fundamental constitutional conflict that would justify defiance; rather, they claimed personal reservations and recognized that those reservations made it impossible to observe the established chain of command, so they stepped aside.

The issue here is whether it's appropriate for the acting AG to hijack the DoJ based on their private opinion on matters of nuanced legal interpretation, of which reasonable people can be on either side, and which have not yet been given a fair hearing in a court of law. That is absolutely not the convention and the oath of office does not require it (and indeed, Ms. Yates does not claim it does). Until such time as the constitutional violation becomes blatant, the DoJ has a constitutional obligation to serve the people's elected chief executive.

Ms. Yates was actively involved in blocking such fair hearings based on nothing but her personal proclivities. Following the precedent of SNM, she should've resigned over personal reservations. In this instance, there is no justification for defiance.

Ms. Yates's behavior looks very questionable and unprofessional to me. She stayed on board for Obama's EOs, which everyone knew were illegal at the time of signing, and was happy to allow the judiciary to make its call there, but is not willing to do so in Mr. Trump's case, where the legal justification appears much more sound.


>"It's a matter for the judiciary to determine exactly whether an obscure law is contradicted"

That's more than a little hand-wavy and dismissive. In multiple places in this thread you quote various laws that seem to support the legality of the EO.

Along comes a law that seems to question it - and your response is to say "oh, well, we'll have to consider whether some obscure law may be contradicted".


You may be confusing my posts with someone else's (yes, it appears there are several of us here taking the crater to our karma!). I haven't quoted any laws that portend to give the President authority to make such an EO. I have asserted that based on my understanding of the Constitution, it's reasonable for such orders to fall under the purview of the executive branch and that historically, executive orders are given respect and force of law.

But the consistent thread through all of my posts is that Ms. Yates' refusal to uphold her constitutional obligation to support the duly-elected chief executive based on her vague, non-specific claim that the order may be illegal and that the DoJ must "always seek justice" is improper. That's what this topic is about. I'm not a lawyer and I can't argue the intricacies or details of the legality of Mr. Trump's order and I make no attempt to do so.


I am merely pointing out the flaw in your argument that the Trump administration's order is in any way acceptable simply because they're working off the same list of countries that the Obama administration used for a past order.


I fail to see the flaw. Many people are pretending that Trump explicitly selected these countries because they didn't interfere with his business interests, or that he selected them specifically because they are home to many Muslims (in fact, the nations with the 5 largest Muslim populations are totally unaffected by the order).

The Trump administration wisely chose to use a list of countries that had been previously identified as terrorist hotspots by President Obama, which fully obviates the implication that Trump selected the countries due to their religious makeup, etc., because the fact is that Trump did not select the specific countries involved at all, and merely relied on the evaluation codified into law under the Obama admin.


You are clearly 10x smarter than I am, but I wish you would use your powers for good.

Yes, it was clever of then to use the list, because it gives them the cover to do whatever they want to do, knowing full well that people like you and Andrew McCarthy of the National Review would defend their actions using this argument. You must be able see the difference between what the Obama administration did in 2015 and the Trump administration is attempting to do today. The fact that the two orders involve the same seven countries in both cases is irrelevant.


It makes for the same sort of easily repeatable distractoid like bleating that Obama did the same thing(tm) in 2011.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/01/30/sorry-mr-president-the-o...


It's not unprecedented for policies to be applied in phases, starting with a more palatable version before expanding it.

> because the fact is that Trump did not select the specific countries involved at all, and merely relied on the evaluation codified into law under the Obama admin.

You're making it sound like Trump was restricted to just that list. Trump isn't a civil servant carrying out the stated orders of the President, he is the President, and is not bound to follow the details of the EO of the previous president.


Green card holders were initially included in the ban. DHS assumed they were not and the white house clarified that they were. Now green card holders are not included.

He is doing what he said he would do, as you pointed out. So to me, "seriously but not literally" is not holding up well.


any what exactly does this EO accomplish?

just because Obama identified countries as a potential threat doesn't necessitate that we be recklessly suspicious of anyone who comes from them. it's disingenuous to say it's just a"step forward"

by permanent residents i assume you mean green card holders in which case they 100% were affected unless you believe the white house spin.


>any what exactly does this EO accomplish?

I mean, is there some mystery to this? The EO explicitly states its purpose in its text. It gives the Trump administration time to evaluate the procedures used to vet nationals from these hotbeds of terrorist activity. Are you concerned that it doesn't do this, or do you simply not agree that this is a worthwhile thing to do?

>by permanent residents i assume you mean green card holders in which case they 100% were affected unless you believe the white house spin.

It's not White House spin. Green card holders were never banned. The media falsely reported a statement from a DHS spokesperson, literally not even quoting a full sentence, to try to cause a panic (and they obviously succeeded). After a few hours, they were forced to fix their erroneous reporting when the White House began issuing corrections (that wouldn't have been needed if the media hadn't intentionally misconstrued the story in the first place).


> It gives the Trump administration time to evaluate the procedures used to vet nationals from these hotbeds of terrorist activity. Are you concerned that it doesn't do this, or do you simply not agree that this is a worthwhile thing to do?

There are many things wrong with the excuse of requiring more vetting:

1. The countries included in the ban have not been responsible for causing damage to the US. The countries with nationals that were involved in such acts were not included. Which makes it rather suspicious that "more vetting" or "preventing dangerous guys" from entering the country was the point of the EO.

2. There is ALREADY an extremely rigorous process to determining the suitability of people before they obtain a Visa/Asylum in the US. If there was anything specifically wrong with the procedure itself that the Trump administration had identified, it would make a lot more sense. They have given no details, and just like Trump's lies about having military plans to defeat ISIS, this seems like the same.

> It's not White House spin. Green card holders were never banned. The media falsely reported a statement from a DHS spokesperson, literally not even quoting a full sentence, to try to cause a panic (and they obviously succeeded). After a few hours, they were forced to fix their erroneous reporting when the White House began issuing corrections (that wouldn't have been needed if the media hadn't intentionally misconstrued the story in the first place).

This is just not true. Other commenters have posted/commented on how Bannon overruled the initial order saying that GC holders were INCLUDED, but the WH had to change that later.


>This is just not true. Other commenters have posted/commented on how Bannon overruled the initial order saying that GC holders were INCLUDED, but the WH had to change that later.

Bannon has no authority to make immigration policy. The reporting attributes actions to him based on anonymous sources ("American officials"), it's not going by the public record or citing public activity. Given their hostile history with Trump, it's no surprise that they'd issue misleading, incredible, and fabricated screeds as he goes about fulfilling the campaign promises that got him elected.


Do you have a point to make, instead of simply disagreeing with fine print? I explained to you why the reasons for the ban are suspicious and why Green Card holders WERE excluded, and you go off on another tangent. Let's stick to the actual facts: http://www.vox.com/2017/1/28/14425150/green-card-ban-muslim-...


Those people are already being vetted. A lot. Do you think no one before Trump realized that there are some bad people in those countries?


You're moving the goal posts. I have no position on whether this was good or not. The parent asked what this EO accomplishes. It accomplishes what it says it accomplishes; it gives the Trump admin time to review the policies.

Is that a smart thing to do or not? I don't know. Does my opinion on whether or not it's smart have anything to do with whether its sufficiently illegal to have the acting AG openly refuse to allow the DoJ to develop arguments in its favor? I don't think so.


why do they need to halt immigration in this way while they review?

they haven't presented any reason for that, and since they've been talking about it for a year i doubt they learned some new info after the election (that some terrorist was specifically trying to get in from these countries, when none ever has, historically)

further, they are wasting a lot of the time they've given themselves in the fallout of how botched and rushed it was.

to say nothing of my lack of confidence that they could come up with a good immigration plan after how poorly this was executed

this whole situation is pointless and cruel


>why do they need to halt immigration in this way while they review?

Their theory is that travel needs to be temporarily halted to ensure that insufficient vetting procedures do not allow any terrorists to sneak in while the review is ongoing. You may agree or disagree that that's a real/substantial threat, but there is valid reasoning behind suspending travel.


There isn't valid reasoning though: if you look at what actually kills people in the US, those people who get in after vetting pose virtually no threat. Toddlers with guns, and falling out of bed kill more Americans than people from those countries have in the US.

It's a Muslim ban, plain and simple. It's not about our security.


As others have pointed out in this thread, if it's a "Muslim ban", it's a "Muslim ban" that bans less than 5% of the worldwide Muslim population, and leaves untouched the 5 countries with the largest Muslim populations. That doesn't sound like a very effective "Muslim ban" to me.

Logically, when compared with what's actually happened, it makes much more sense to interpret Mr. Trump's comments that specifically mentioned barring Muslims from entering the U.S. as hyperbolic campaign statements.

Whatever intentions you wish to thrust upon American officials, the fact is that the Order makes a valid security-based argument and contains no religious test. Those are the facts. We can't argue over the intentions of someone neither of us has ever met, but we can discuss the text of the Order in question.

It's possible for reasonable people to disagree with the Trump administration's arguments, to be sure. But that's not justification for subverting the law, nor is it justification for the DoJ to undermine the president and prevent the executive branch from making a case for itself in the forthcoming judicial challenges, as Ms. Yates was doing.

In a democracy, we implicitly accept that there will be some successes and some failures, and that we are bound to live under the laws we dislike as much as the laws we favor. If we lose mutual respect sufficient to live with those compromises, we are in big trouble.


There's both a religious test and no valid security argument. Absolutely none.

https://twitter.com/FT/status/826470867945283584


"A religious test" is an actual thing. Please refer to the full text of the EO [0] and let me know where a religious test for travelers is instituted. I am aware of the "religious minority" re-prioritization on the refugee program, but I'm not discussing that right now, I'm discussing the travel restrictions that people mean when they say "Muslim ban", not the re-prioritization of asylum requests that claim religious persecution (which doesn't really rise to the standard of a religious test IMO either, but neither here nor there right now).

When I say valid, I mean that the argument as formed and asserted appears to be a real argument, not necessarily a correct one (which is a matter of subjective individual judgment). It's like code that will compile but not do what was intended. The room for disagreement is in whether or not the "program works without bugs" (the Executive Order achieves its intended purposes), not whether the "code compiles" (the argument formed is syntactically legal). I assert only the latter; the EO itself presents a "syntactically valid" argument, which one is free to agree or disagree with personally.

This technical crap matters because it's relevant to the DoJ's obligations to represent and faithfully execute upon the legally-valid instructions of the executive branch, and because it's important to keep people from killing each other on the false belief that the republic is being subverted.

[0] https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/27/execu...


Do you really believe what you posted?

If tomorrow he says something to disprove one of your points, you will further twist your argument to somehow appears as if he is still doing the right thing.

I don't think anyone but yourself can convince you of what is really going on.


I have no position on whether or not President Trump's order is "the right thing". I am merely saying that he is seriously, but not literally, fulfilling the promises he made during the campaign. That's what the comment I was replying to was discussing. Trump has not literally banned Muslims, nor has he literally begun construction on a wall that rivals the Great Wall of China (and indications are that he doesn't intend something so permanent/marring, but that he does intend to build a secure perimeter along the southern border).

If tomorrow he does literally fulfill some promises, that's probably fine, as surely some promises were literal (maybe the ones about government-paid child care?).


You're doing a lot of arguing For someone who has no position on it.


Self-indulgent arguments over technicalities have been a lifelong thing for me. My dad always told me I should be a lawyer. ;)

Seriously though, it matters because people are trying to pretend that there is some extraordinary abrogation of law, precedent, or process here, when indeed there hasn't been. There's just a bunch of malicious people with a megaphone trying to scare other people so that those people will be duped into doing their dirty work, which has a real potential to grow not just disorderly, but violent.

I really don't know much about whether President Obama's immigration orders were wise or not either, but I would've made equally self-indulgent arguments in his favor if people were also trying to incite mass panic over it.


has nothing to do with religion.

After what Giuliani has publicly stated and explained, how can you say this?



Did you read what Giuliani stated, or just go off the headline? He explicitly said it wasn't about religion. See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13527870.

This is "seriously, but not literally". Trump seriously meant he wanted to halt immigration from terrorists hotspots (which, yes, at the moment, are predominantly Muslim -- but that doesn't mean Muslims are predominantly terrorists). He asked his people to take his loose statement of intent and make it into something serious, legal, and valid.

Giuliani indicates that in order to do that, the Trump admin avoided any conflation of terrorism with religion, and that this was both "totally sensible" and "totally legal". Do you disagree?


I didn't just read it, I watched it. I heard it from his own mouth.

Here is the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlibiQIy298

Let's put this in context

Donald Trump's quote: "Donald J. Trump is calling for a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on."

Or the wording on his website: https://cdn0.tnwcdn.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2016/11...

We can let the viewers at home decide.


Donald J. Trump is calling for a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States

They did a pretty bad job then. The vast majority of Muslims don't live in those 7 countries.


well priebus said on mtp on sunday that they used those countries because obama selected the list and so they thought it would be more likely to pass muster. He then said, other countries may be added in the future (when he was asked why saudi arabia, etc werent on the list).

So this is just the starting point.


Bannon is smart enough to do this in degrees. Accelerated degrees, but degrees nonetheless.


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