President Trump fired his acting attorney general on Monday after she defiantly refused to defend his immigration executive order, accusing the Democratic holdover of trying to obstruct his agenda for political reasons. The acting attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, on Monday ordered government lawyers not to defend President Trump’s executive order on immigration in court. The president appointed Dana J. Boente, United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to serve as acting attorney general until Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama is confirmed.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) on Thursday sought to refute Attorney General Jeff Sessions's claim that his contact with Russia was because he was a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "I've been on the Armed Services Com for 10 years. No call or meeting w/Russian ambassador. Ever," McCaskill tweeted.
The Trump administration moved on Friday to sweep away most of the remaining vestiges of Obama administration prosecutors at the Justice Department, ordering 46 holdover United States attorneys to tender their resignations immediately — including Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord told staff this week she is leaving to pursue other opportunities. McCord has led the probe into Russian election meddling. Mary B. McCord has served at the highest levels in the national security unit, either as its leader or chief deputy, for the past three years. A longtime federal prosecutor based in Washington, McCord easily won the confidence of both career lawyers and her supervisors inside the Justice Department.
The Justice Department asked a court to dismiss the lawsuit brought by a watch dog group alleging that President Trump is in violation of the Constitution’s Emolument clause. The filing from the federal government on Friday argued that neither the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), nor the businesses that have joined the lawsuit, have the standing to bring the legal challenge, while asserting that the Emoluments clause does not apply to the sort of profits Trump is benefiting from through his businesses while in office.
President Trump put fresh pressure on the second-highest-ranking official at the Justice Department on Friday, raising concerns among the president’s critics that Rod J. Rosenstein could be in danger of being fired, while others argued that if he stays he should recuse himself from his role overseeing the special-counsel probe that has engulfed the White House. “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt,” the president said on Twitter.
President Trump acknowledged publicly for the first time on Friday that he was under investigation in the expanding inquiry into Russian influence in the election, and he appeared to attack the integrity of the Justice Department official in charge of leading it.
The Trump administration is now openly threatening to use the Justice Department as a tool for punishing critical speech. White House advisers have discussed a potential point of leverage over their adversary, a senior administration official said: a pending merger between CNN’s parent company, Time Warner, and AT&T. Mr. Trump’s Justice Department will decide whether to approve the merger, and while analysts say there is little to stop the deal from moving forward, the president’s animus toward CNN remains a wild card. [my emphasis]
The Department of Justice has filed court papers arguing that a major federal civil rights law does not protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation, taking a stand against a decision reached under former President Barack Obama.
President Trump and his advisers are privately discussing the possibility of replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and some confidants are floating prospects who could take his place were he to resign or be fired, according to people familiar with the talks.