Tag Archives: Sally Yates

Content of character: does it still count?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Make no mistake that I likely would feel differently were I of African-American or Latino or Asian descent. I am none of those.

Having laid that predicate down, I want to engage in the discussion over who President-elect Biden should select as the nation’s next attorney general.

I practically jumped out of my shoes the other day when I heard an African-American commentator, Jonathan Capehart, say out loud that the three individuals Biden is believed to be considering as AG are too white for his taste. Capehart wants more “diversity” among the finalists.

Hmm. Let’s examine this briefly. The three people Biden reportedly is pondering are U.S. District Judge Merrick Garland, former deputy U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates and U.S. Sen. Doug Jones. They all possess exemplary legal credentials. They also all have committed through their careers to advancing the cause of civil rights.

Their only “shortcoming” is that they aren’t people of color.

President-elect Biden has kept his pledge to nominate executive branch team members who reflect the nation. Has loaded the Cabinet with and top-level staffers with African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, women; my goodness, he even has selected an openly gay man to serve in the Cabinet.

President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, only to have his nomination blocked in 2016 by Senate Republicans who wanted to wait for the presidential election outcome that year. Garland has been a champion for minority rights, for gay rights and has staked out a center-left course while serving on the federal bench.

Sally Yates has demonstrated her own commitment to fair and impartial justice as a deputy AG, striving to be sensitive to minority Americans’ concerns over whether the justice system was loaded against them.

Doug Jones, who lost his bid for re-election to the Senate from Alabama in 2020, served as a federal prosecutor and obtained the conviction of the Klansmen who blew up the Birmingham, Ala., church in 1963 that killed four precious African-American girls; it was one of the most notorious hate crimes of the 20th century. He, too, has earned his spurs in fighting for minority rights.

Is it essential that the next AG be a person of color? No. It isn’t. It is essential that the next attorney general refrain from engaging in partisan politics and administer justice dispassionately and in accordance with the law.

I want to remind everyone of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that day in 1963. He spoke of his “dream” that one day black Americans can be judged by “content of their character” rather than “the color of their skin.”

Shouldn’t that noble goal apply to any American?

Still trying to process that bizarre joint appearance

Nearly a week later and that mind-blowing press availability with Donald J. Trump and Vladimir Putin is still the talk of the town.

Or the nation. Maybe the world.

I’m still trying to make sense of it. I’m trying to determine what in the world is rattling around in the president’s noggin. I’m trying to figure out why in the name of bilateral relations he didn’t call Putin out for what damn near everyone on Earth knows he did: the Russian president orchestrated the cyber attack on our electoral system in 2016.

I’m still not ready to say that Trump has broken the law and committed an act of treason for which he could be prosecuted, convicted and given the ultimate sentence … of death.

But damn! As former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates said this week, Trump might be the first president in history who isn’t “all in” with regard to standing up for the United States of America.

I believe she is correct. Trump’s hideous disparaging of our intelligence agencies and his acceptance of Putin’s denial that he attacked our electoral system spoke volumes about the president’s commitment to the nation he governs. It’s not there!

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. As many of us have noted — and I’m one of them — Trump entered the 2016 campaign after never run for any public office of any kind. Public service is a totally foreign concept to this guy. He gauges every move, every decision, every action on its impact on his poll standing, or his “ratings.”

Then we have that Helsinki event. The president who vowed to “get tough” with our adversaries has gotten soft. The president who said he would “make America great again” has made America the world’s laughingstock. The man who vowed to “put America first” has now put our foes first, starting with Russia.

All the while he keeps yapping and yammering about “rigged witch hunts” while getting angry when his Cabinet doesn’t fawn over his every pronouncement.

And he keeps lying.

My head is about to explode.

Longing for when presidents were gracious winners

You remember Sally Yates, right? She is the former deputy U.S. attorney general fired by Donald J. Trump because she wouldn’t enforce the president’s ban on Muslims seeking to enter the country.

She’s now speaking out against the president’s insistence that the Justice Department investigate Hillary Rodham Clinton. For what is not entirely clear. The president just keeps hammering at and yammering about Clinton.

Yates wrote this in a tweet, according to The Hill: “DOJ not a tool for POTUS to use to go after his enemies and protect his friends,” Yates said in a tweet Saturday. “Respect rule of law and DOJ professionals. This must stop.”

Oh, how I long for the days when presidents won elections, got about the business of governing, said a good word about their opponents and then let bygones be bygones … even after tough and bruising political campaigns.

Donald Trump isn’t wired that way. In fact, he is not wired to govern effectively, to assume the office of the presidency with grace and dignity. Oh no. He’s wired instead to keep up the battle. He wants to re-litigate an election he won. He wants to keep smearing his opponents’ faces in the fact that he won an Electoral College victory.

There once was a time when presidents didn’t obsess over past battles — particularly those they won. They instead looked ahead exclusively to the myriad challenges that lay before them.

Not Trump. He said in a radio interview: “The saddest thing is, because I’m the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved in the Justice Department. I am not supposed to be involved in the FBI. I’m not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing and I’m very frustrated by it.”

Uh, Mr. President? You are the president of the United States. You have the power to do whatever you want — within the law and the U.S. Constitution. If you choose to move away from the 2016 election — which you won! — then just do so.


POTUS fired his own acting AG?

There’s been some interesting reporting overnight about the political earthquake that the president of the United States created.

Donald Trump fired acting U.S. attorney general Sally Yates because of her refusal to defend the president’s order banning refugees entering the United States temporarily from certain countries … where Muslims comprise the majority of the population.

Yates is held over from the Obama administration.

Here’s the weird part: Trump and his team reportedly asked Yates to stay on the job until the president could have his own AG confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The president selected her to be the acting attorney general.

Yates is known to be a dedicated career federal prosecutor who has worked in the Justice Department under both Republican and Democratic presidents.

She said she believed the president’s order was unlawful — under her understanding of federal statutes and the U.S. Constitution. I believe it is the duty of the AG — acting or otherwise — to follow the law and not necessarily to do what he or she is told to do by the president.

Trump chose Yates, who then followed the law.

Then the president accused her of “betraying” the Justice Department. Hit the road, he told her.

And now we have our first potential constitutional crisis.

Just think: It’s Day 11 of the Trump administration.

Trump makes history by firing acting AG

I had not heard of Sally Yates until today.

Now she becomes something of political hero in the eyes of millions of Americans — thanks to Donald J. Trump’s decision tonight to fire her from her job as acting U.S. attorney general.

What did the former assistant AG do? She declined to argue on behalf of the president’s decision to ban refugees trying to enter this country from seven Muslim-majority nations.

Yates questioned whether the executive order was lawful. Oh, yes — she is a holdover from the Obama administration’s Department of Justice.

My head continues to spin. My eyes are bugging out. My heart is palpitating.

Ten days into his presidency and Donald Trump’s penchant for pandemonium has claimed its first victim.


Yates was holding down the DOJ post until Jeff Sessions was to be approved by the U.S. Senate.

I’m not yet sure about the legality of the executive order. Perhaps the former assistant AG is right; perhaps she is wrong. Whatever the case, the president chose to fire her summarily without first trying to persuade her that she really ought to do the job she was supposed to do.

Some folks around Washington are bringing up some dark memories. Can you recall the Saturday Night Massacre, when President Nixon sought to remove a special prosecutor who was examining the Watergate caper? Do you recall he then fired — in succession — the attorney general and his assistant AG who refused to dismiss the independent counsel?

The task then fell to the U.S. solicitor general, a fellow named Robert Bork, who went on to earn his own place in our nation’s history.

Honeymoon for this president? It is officially over.