Last night, Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates, after Yates "ordered Justice Department lawyers not to defend his immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world. In a news release, the White House said Yates had 'betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.' Trump named in her place Dana Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Boente said he would enforce the president's directive until he was replaced by Trump's attorney general nominee, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala)."
Sally Yates was a career prosecutor for more than 2 decades & prosecuted Olympic bomber prior to being named Deputy AG. She exits DOJ a hero— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) January 31, 2017
To be totally clear: Yates was doing the job she swore an oath to do—defend the U.S. Constitution. And, in response, Trump called it a "betrayal" and fired her.
Then, Trump fired acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Daniel Ragsdale, and replaced him with Thomas Homan. "By promoting Homan, who most recently led the arm of ICE that enforces detentions and deportations, the Trump administration signaled its intent to place a greater emphasis on the harsh enforcement measures that Homan carried out."
Both Yates and Ragsdale were "placeholders" as acting heads, but the ubiquitous argument that their temporary status renders this irrelevant is absolutely wrong. Trump did not merely remove them because their finite leadership was finished, but to make way for people who will more faithfully and aggressively execute his unconstitutional Muslim ban.
"This isn't fascism." Sure. I guess. In the same way a single cobblestone isn't the entire street.— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) January 31, 2017
Trump fired both acting AG & acting ICE director. He accused AG of "betrayal" for following court order. This is a purge. It is not normal.— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) January 31, 2017
Meanwhile comes news that several House Judiciary Committee aides helped the Trump administration draft the Islamophobic executive order, but did so after signing nondisclosure agreements, and then failed to inform the Republican committee chair and party leadership. This is extraordinary. Someone in the Trump administration (my guess is Pence) convinced Congressional staffers to work in secret to draft an unconstitutional Muslim ban. That is incredibly alarming.
Republicans are not happy about it, but are they going to do anything about it? Someone (my guess is Bannon) is working very hard to sow discord with Republican legislators, but he may be underestimating how craven they actually are. Either way, whether by fissures in the party or unfathomable fealty, the Trump authoritarians are going to get what they want, and no one in the GOP seems inclined to stop them.
In other news: "Trump is taking aim at one of the federal government's main agencies for climate change research—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—and NOAA employees are girding for drastic changes in how they conduct science and report it to the public. Trump has appointed a leading denier of climate change, Kenneth Haapala of the Heartland Institute, to serve on the administration team handling appointments for the U.S. Department of Commerce, the federal agency that oversees NOAA." This is so, so dangerous.
Further: Trump has announced he will "keep the Obama administration protections extended to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers, a statement said, apparently responding to reports that the orders would be reversed." That is a relief, but a very minimal one. As I noted yesterday, Congressional Republicans are preparing the "First Amendment Defense Act," which is a heinous anti-LGBT bill, and none of us should have any faith at all that Trump won't sign it when it lands on his desk.
And more: "Trump's top trade adviser accuses Germany of currency exploitation." Unreal. "Germany is using a 'grossly undervalued' euro to 'exploit' the US and its EU partners, Donald Trump's top trade adviser has said in comments that are likely to trigger alarm in Europe's largest economy. Peter Navarro, the head of Mr Trump's new National Trade Council, told the Financial Times the euro was like an 'implicit Deutsche Mark' whose low valuation gave Germany an advantage over its main trading partners. His views suggest the new administration is focusing on currency as part of its hard-charging approach on trade ties. In a departure from past US policy, Mr Navarro also called Germany one of the main hurdles to an American trade deal with the EU and declared talks with the bloc over a US-EU agreement, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, dead." This is just incredibly worrying.
And finally: "Battle Rages Amid East Ukraine's Bloodiest Fighting in Weeks." By way of reminder, Trump and Putin had a phone call over the weekend, and casualties have starkly increased in the interceding days.
This is all very, very bad.