Tuesday, February 14, 2017

On second thought....

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth when Sally Yates resigned rather than defend Trump's indefensible Muslim ban in court.  I didn't read the arguments, but I know there were lawyers who thought she had an obligation to do her job.  It didn't surprise me:  whenever someone takes an ethical stance, there are always people enraged that someone would behave ethically, usually because it makes them realize how unethical they are.

But maybe there was more to her stance than first met the eye:

The acting attorney general informed the Trump White House late last month that she believed Michael Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and warned that the national security adviser was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail, current and former U.S. officials said.

The message, delivered by Sally Q. Yates and a senior career national security official to the White House counsel, was prompted by concerns that ­Flynn, when asked about his calls and texts with the Russian diplomat, had told Vice ­President-elect Mike Pence and others that he had not discussed the Obama administration sanctions on Russia for its interference in the 2016 election, the officials said. It is unclear what the White House counsel, Donald McGahn, did with the information.

Yes, this does raise the question of what did the President know and when did he know it.  But it raises another question:  why did Sally Yates declare herself superior to the White House, knowing how that would end?  Maybe because she didn't want to resign quietly from this Administration, because she had already seen how it worked, and she wanted to get some attention for it.

After all, would WaPo be leading an article about what Sally Yates knew in January, if the country's response would be:  "Who?"  Which is not to say Sally Yates was a martyr for legal ethics; but this is how ethical people behave.  They don't quietly withdraw:  they point out the corruption.  Sally Yates did that, twice.

We owe her a debt of gratitude, not the whining complaint that she's making the rest of us, who keep our heads down and do what the boss tells us so we can keep our jobs, look bad.


  1. She's certainly becoming one of my heroes. I hope she has a future in public life because she's good.

  2. Yates is my hero, too. Non-lawyers I've talked to say she should have resigned rather than issue the memo and refuse to defend the travel ban. I don't see the difference. Yates knew she'd be fired. Perhaps the firing had been in the works since she informed the White House that Flynn was lying.

    Loyalty trumps everything with Trump, and perhaps he's uncertain about Pence's loyalty to death, so he was not informed. Pence stated he was angry and furstrated, but he's the gentleman-in-waiting, so even if he's treated like a potted plant, he's not going anywhere.