When Sally Yates was confirmed as deputy U.S. attorney general nearly two years ago, she assured Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions that she would be willing to stand up to the President if he took “unlawful” action.
Yates, who had just recently taken over as acting attorney general, was fired Monday night by President Donald Trump after she refused to defend his order on immigration, explaining that she was not “convinced that the executive order is lawful.” Trump admonished Yates, replaced her with a new acting attorney general and is now eagerly awaiting the confirmation of his Attorney General nominee, who happens to be Sessions.
During Yates’ confirmation hearing on March 24, 2105, Sessions grilled her on whether she would be willing to say no to the President (who at the time was Barack Obama) — “no matter how headstrong they might be.”
“If the views a President wants to execute are unlawful, should the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General say no?” Sessions asked.
“Senator, I believe that the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General has an obligation to follow the law and the Constitution and to give their independent legal advice to the President,” Yates said.
In the wake of the Justice Department shakeup Monday, that clip from the hearing has gone viral:
Here’s a transcript of their exchange:
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Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com