By Lydia Wheeler - 01-30-17 18:43 PM EST
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates sent a letter Monday ordering the Justice Department not to defend President Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees in court, the New York Times reports.
Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, reportedly said she's responsible for ensuring that the positions the department takes in court remain consistent with the institution's solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.
The White House did not immediately comment on Yates' order.
Yates's decision suggests she does not want to put the credibility of the Justice Department behind the order, which is expected to be challenged in court.
The acting attorney general will be replaced within days, assuming President Trump's nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), is confirmed.
Sessions would then enforce the order, though it is possible the Trump White House could replace Yates in the interim with someone else at Justice who would be asked to defend the order.
"At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful," Yates reportedly wrote in the letter.
The executive order Trump signed on Friday bars Syrian refugees indefinitely and denies entry for 90 days for all individuals from Syria and six other predominantly Muslim countries: Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen.
A federal judge in New York on Saturday granted a request from the American Civil Liberties Union, filed on behalf of two Iraqi men who were detained at John F. Kennedy Airport, to temporarily block the order.
Just in: The acting Attorney General: "nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful." pic.twitter.com/ofvIgbk7qW- Michael Del Moro (@MikeDelMoro) January 30, 2017