Judicial Watch: New Justice Department Records Show Strong Support by Mueller Deputy Andrew Weissmann, Other Top DOJ Officials for Yates’ Refusal to Enforce President Trump Travel Ban
‘I am so proud. And in awe. Thank you so much. All my deepest respects’ – Andrew Weissmann, then-Chief of Justice Department Criminal Fraud Section
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today released two productions (335 pages and 44 pages) of Justice Department (DOJ) documents showing strong support by top DOJ officials for former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates’ refusal to enforce President Trump’s Middle East travel ban executive order. In one email, Andrew Weissmann, one of Robert Mueller’s top prosecutors and formerly the Obama-era Chief of the Justice Department’s Criminal Fraud Section, applauds Yates writing: “I am so proud. And in awe. Thank you so much. All my deepest respects.”
Judicial Watch obtained the documents through a May 2017 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed after the Justice Department failed to respond to a February FOIA request seeking Yates’ emails from her government account (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-00832)) for the time period she served as Acting Attorney General for President Trump.
The emails, several sent from official Justice Department email addresses, show strong support for Yates, who was fired for disobeying a direct order from the President:
- Thomas Delahanty, then the United States Attorney for Maine wrote: “You are my hero.”
- Liz Aloi, a career service employee and Chief of the Justice Department’s Special Financial Investigations Unit told Yates she was “Inspirational and heroic.”
- Emily Gray Rice, then the U.S. Attorney for New Hampshire and an Obama appointee said: “AAG Yates, thank you, as always, for making us proud. It is truly an honor to work for you.”
- Obama appointee Barbara McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan told Yates, “Thank you for your courage and leadership. This is wonderful news.”
- DOJ Civil Division Appellate Attorney Jeffrey Clair wrote: “Thank you AG Yates. I’ve been in civil/appellate for 30 years and have never seen an administration with such contempt for democratic values and the rule of law. The President’s order is an unconstitutional embarrassment and I applaud you for taking a principled stand against defending it.”
“This is an astonishing and disturbing find. Andrew Weisman, a key prosecutor on Robert Mueller’s team, praised Obama DOJ holdover Sally Yates after she lawlessly thwarted President Trump,” stated Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. “How much more evidence do we need that the Mueller operation has been irredeemably compromised by anti-Trump partisans? Shut it down.”
Yates was appointed by President Obama as U.S. Attorney in northern Georgia and was later confirmed as Deputy Attorney General. In January 2017 she became acting Attorney General for President Trump.
Yates was involved in the controversy concerning Gen. Michael Flynn, allegedly warning the Trump White House in early January about General Flynn’s contacts with the Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak. (Judicial Watch is separately suing for records concerning the surveillance and subsequent leaks regarding General Flynn.)
On January 30, Yates ordered the Justice Department not to defend President Trump’s January 27 executive order seeking a travel ban from seven Middle Eastern countries. That same day, President Trump fired her for refusing to defend the action.
In a late October article describing Andrew Weissmann as Robert Mueller’s “Pit Bull,” The New York Times wrote, “He is a top lieutenant to Robert S. Mueller III on the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible links to the Trump campaign. Significantly, Mr. Weissmann is an expert in converting defendants into collaborators — with either tactical brilliance or overzealousness, depending on one’s perspective.” Weissman oversaw the pre-dawn home raid of former Trump aide Paul Manafort in what one former federal prosecutor described as “textbook Weissmann terrorism.”