DNC convention speakers: What to know about Sally Yates  

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Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates will be among several speakers to appear during the second night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

The convention, which begins Monday and goes through Thursday, was originally scheduled to be held in Milwaukee, but will instead be streamed entirely online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Each day will be organized around a particular theme. The theme of Tuesday, “Leadership Matters,” will feature Democratic heavyweights, including former President Bill Clinton, giving speeches that focus on meeting the country’s challenges.

Former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill May 8, 2017 in Washington, DC. 

Former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill May 8, 2017 in Washington, DC. 
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Yates served as Deputy Attorney General under former President Barack Obama and briefly under President Trump. Trump fired Yates less than two weeks into his administration after she directed Justice Department attorneys not to defend Trump’s controversial executive refugee and immigration ban.

Then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in explaining Trump’s actions that Yates had “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”

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In a memo, Yates said that she was “not convinced that Trump’s order was lawful, nor that its defense was consistent with what she described as the department’s obligation to “always seek justice and stand for what is right.”

Yates effectively became one of the first sitting government officials to directly clash with the Trump administration, becoming a hero in the so-called “resistance.”

Yates made headlines later in 2017 after a heated exchange with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee. In response to Cruz’s citation of a law that allows the president broad powers to control who goes in and out of the country, Yates read another law that bans discrimination in issuing visas. She pointed out that the law she read was more recent than the one Cruz had read.

Earlier this month, Yates testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the FBI had interviewed then-incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn in January 2017 without her authorization.

When asked by Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. about the circumstances surrounding the interview, she said she was upset when she found out.

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“I was upset that (then-FBI Director James) Comey didn’t coordinate that with us and acted unilaterally,” Yates said.

She said she was also frustrated that she had to find out the FBI was investigating Flynn’s phone call with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak from then-President Obama rather than from Comey himself.

Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about having discussed sanctions during the presidential transition period with the then-Russian ambassador to the United States. Those concerns prompted alarm within the FBI because White House officials had said publicly that Flynn and the ambassador had not discussed sanctions.

Hours after Yates’ testimony, President Trump accused Yates of lying.

“It is not possible she could have known so little about Dirty Cop James Comey (and others) from her high position in the Department of ‘Justice,'” the president tweeted early Thursday. “The political Crime of the Century, and she had no idea what they were doing?”

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Yates’ name had been floated earlier this year as a possible contender to be Joe Biden’s running mate for the 2020 presidential election.

Fox News’ Joshua Nelson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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