Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Yates Time

The widely and justly derided Representative Raul Labrador of Idaho claims he "was trying to explain that all hospitals are required by law to treat patients in need of emergency care..."

Though disingenuous and somewhat beside the point, the Republican's remark should comfort two Texas senators, Cornyn and Cruz, who today need to have tread marks removed from their backs from the tractor driven at the Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee hearing by former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates. Cruz started in Cruzian fashion, referring to a statute by its number rather than name or topic, thereby verifying his brilliance. After he asked "well, are you familiar with 8 USC Section 1182," the discussion proceeded as

YATES: Not off the top of my head, no.

CRUZ: Well, it -- it -- it is the binding statutory authority for the executive order that you refused to implement, and that led to your termination. So it -- it certainly is a relevant and not a terribly obscure statute.

By the express text of the statute, it says, quote, "whenever the president finds that entry of any alien or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interest of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem appropriate."

Would you agree that is broad statutory authorization?

Given that the Acting AG refused to enforce the travel ban, it is reasonable to assume she would understand the entire statute. and she answered

YATES: I would, and I am familiar with that. And I'm also familiar with an additional provision of the INA that says no person shall receive preference or be discriminated against an issuance of a visa because of race, nationality or place of birth, that I believe was promulgated after the statute that you just quoted.

And that's been part of the discussion with the courts, with respect to the INA, is whether this more specific statute trumps the first one that you just described.

Failing to learn from Cruz, John Cornyn remarked

Well, Ms. Yates, you had a distinguished career for 27 years at the Department of Justice and I voted for your confirmation because I believed that you had a distinguished career. But I have to tell you that I find it enormously disappointing that you somehow vetoed the decision of the Office of Legal Counsel with regard to the lawfulness of the president's order and decided instead that you would counter man (ph) the executive order of the president of the United States because you happen to disagree with it as a policy matter.

Yates responded

I appreciate that, Senator, and let me make one thing clear. It is not purely as a policy matter. In fact, I'll remember my confirmation hearing. In an exchange that I had with you and others of your colleagues where you specifically asked me in that hearing that if the president asked me to do something that was unlawful or unconstitutional and one of your colleagues said or even just that would reflect poorly on the Department of Justice, would I say no? And I looked at this, I made a determination that I believed that 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 and that's what I did.

Time to drop that line of questioning, but Cornyn didn't realize it. Worse, now the lady is backing the tractor up!:

CORNYN: I don't know how you can say that it was lawful and say that it was within your prerogative to refuse to defend it in a court of law and leave it to the court to decide.

YATES: Senator, I did not say it was lawful. I said it was unlawful.

To be fair to Cornyn, he at least asked a reasonable question in a reasonable manner, unlike Cruz, who was too smart by half (a saying itself too smart by half). It's one thing to think you're awfully smart- it's another to underestimate your opponent, and Cruz did so, inexcusably.

Of course, all that pales in significance to their obeisance to the Scoundrel-in-Chief, Donald J. Trump.

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