Trump sacks defiant acting attorney general Sally Yates

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Sally Yates refused to enforce Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban

(BBC) Donald Trump has fired the acting US attorney general after she questioned the legality of his immigration ban.

Sally Yates, who was appointed by Barack Obama, ordered justice department lawyers not to enforce the president’s executive order.

A White House statement accused Ms Yates of “betraying” the justice department and being “weak on borders”.

Mr Trump replaced her with Dana Boente, US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Mr Boente said he was “honoured to serve President Trump” and immediately directed his department to enforce the controversial order.

Mr Trump also replaced the acting director of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Daniel Ragsdale, who has been in the post since 20 January. He is the former deputy director.

No reason was given for Mr Ragsdale’s sacking. He has been replaced by Thomas Homan, the executive associate director of enforcement and removal.

Mr Trump’s order temporarily banned nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, and sparked street protests in the US and abroad.

Ms Yates, a career prosecutor who served as deputy attorney general under Barack Obama, said in a letter that she was “not convinced” that the president’s order was lawful.

“As long as I am the acting attorney general, the department of justice will not present arguments in defence of the Executive Order,” she said.

Within hours, the White House announced: “President Trump relieved Ms Yates of her duties.”

A statement claimed she had “betrayed the department of justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States”.

It also described her as “weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration”.

Democrats hits back at Ms Yates’ dismissal. Senator Chuck Schumer, the party leader, said in a statement that the “attorney general should be loyal and pledge fidelity to the law, not the White House. The fact that this administration doesn’t understand that is chilling”.

Meanwhile, hundreds of diplomats and foreign servants have been drafting a “dissent cable” to formally criticise the president’s executive order.

A draft version of the cable said that immigration restrictions will not make the US safer, are un-American and will send the wrong message to the Muslim world.

The ban bars citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

The White House has consistently defended Mr Trump’s executive order despite the controversy, with press secretary Sean Spicer saying diplomats should “get with the programme”.

In addition, former President Barack Obama has apparently broken with the convention of former presidents avoiding comment on their successors.

President Trump’s order was met with widespread protests – including this one at JFK airport in New York Getty Images

Commenting on the protests about the immigration order, President Obama said he was “heartened”.

“Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organise and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake,” he said in a statement, which did not mention Mr Trump by name.

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