By Phil Kent –
What do U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and President Donald Trump have in common? They both think Sally Yates is a second-rate lawyer. A lot of Georgia Democrats want to forget what happened in September 2009, when the prominent black congressman called then-White House counsel Greg Craig to try to block Yates from being appointed by the Obama administration as a U.S. attorney in Georgia.
Why did Lewis attack her? As a federal prosecutor, she had won a corruption conviction against former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, a longtime friend and ally of Lewis.\
Of course, that was then and this is now.
This week Yates was back in the news when, as the Obama-appointed acting attorney general, she told Justice Department lawyers not to defend Trump’s executive order temporarily banning people from seven countries that are terrorist havens.
“It’s so easy to be a heroine when you’re not appointed by this president, and when you’re on the other side,” liberal Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz declared. “She made a serious mistake.” The professor especially noted she had no right to tell the other department lawyers to disobey a lawful order. (Yates was fired by Trump and succeeded by a place-holder until attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions is confirmed by the Senate.)
Some Georgia Democrats are praising her as a “martyr” after the firing and are even encouraging her to return home and consider running for governor in 2018.
A one-time Atlanta attorney and now a legal scholar with the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, however, says not so fast. “There is no doubt that Yates is going to be portrayed as a martyr by progressives and the media who don’t like the executive order because she was fired,” says Hans von Spakovsky. “But she allowed her political views to interfere with her basic professional obligation to enforce the rule of
law and to defend an executive order issued by the president that her own department had already concluded was lawfully issued. She failed in her duty.”
If Yates were to enter the governor’s race, it would be hard to run on a platform of “I fought the law and the law won.”