During Sally Yates’ 2015 confirmation hearing to become U.S. attorney general, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions instructed her to just “say no” to the president.
It’s ironic, given the fact that President Trump fired Yates on Monday after she refused to uphold his executive order on immigration in court, saying that she felt it was not lawful.
It turns out, she took Sessions’ advice after all.
The Alabama Senator has been expected to replace Yates as Trump’s pick to head the Department of Justice.
National Law Journal editor Mike Scarcella resurfaced an excerpt from Yates’ Senate confirmation hearing from two years in light of her firing. During the hearing, Sessions warned Yates that her job at the DOJ would be different from her previous job as a district attorney in Georgia, and that she would be faced with politicians that might ask her to do things that would be “corrosive to the rule of law in the United States.”
“…people will be asking you to do things that you just need to say no about,” Sessions said. “Do you think the attorney general has a responsibility to say no to the president if he asks for something that’s improper?”
Yates responded by saying that she believed the attorney general must follow the law first and provide independent legal advice to the president.
Sessions asked this question to Yates during Obama’s presidency, but his critics believe that he will not follow the advice he gave to Yates should he become Trump’s attorney general. On Monday, a Washington Post report connected many of Trump’s policies to Sessions via the senator’s former senior aide, Stephen Miller, who was tasked with overseeing the refugee ban’s rollout. Two transition officials told the Post that Sessions advised Trump to sign his executive orders even faster than he has in order to rattle his opposition and gain more approval from his base.
The article was a matter of discussion during Sessions’ confirmation hearing on Tuesday, as Sessions’ fellow Republican Senator Chuck Grassley denied that Sessions was involved in the implementation of the refugee ban. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein cited the report as evidence that Sessions would serve Trump rather than provide an independent voice.
“If this is true,” Feinstein asked, “how can we possibly conclude this nominee will be independent?”
You can watch the clip of Sessions’ questions to Yates in the clip from C-SPAN above.