Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates‘ dismantling of Ted Cruz during questioning at a Senate hearing this Monday took the internet by storm, but her exchange with Texas GOP Senator John Cornyn was just as good even though it got slightly less attention.
Like Cruz, Cornyn questioned Yates’ decision not to enforce President Trump’s Muslim ban. “What is your authority to overrule the Office of Legal Counsel?” Cornyn asked while suggesting that she was more influenced by it being a “policy matter” rather than a constitutional one. Yates replied that the office looks at an executive order only to determine “whether there is some set of circumstances under which at least some part of the executive order may be lawful,” adding she’s more focused on the “intent and purpose” of an executive order.
“Let me make one thing clear,” Yates shot back. “It was not purely as a policy matter. If fact, I remember my confirmation hearing: in an exchange I had with you… where you specifically asked me in that hearing that if the president asked me to do something that was unlawful or unconstitutional… or even would reflect poorly on the Department of Justice, would I say no, and I looked at this, I made a determination that I believe it was unlawful. I also thought that it was inconsistent with principles of the Department of Justice. And I said no. And that’s what I promised you I would do. That’s what I did.”
“I don’t know how you can say it was lawful and say that it was within your prerogative to refuse the court of law and leave it to the court to decide,” Cornyn said at one point during the exchange.
“Senator, I did not say it was lawful,” Yates said. “I said it was unlawful.”
Watch the full exchange in the video below:
Featured image via screen grab