President Donald Trump on Monday night fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who had told Justice Department lawyers not to defend his recent executive order halting the Syrian refugee program and temporarily barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
Dana Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, will succeed Yates in managing the Justice Department, the Washington Post reported.
Yates, who was deputy attorney general in the Obama administration, was filling in the top department position until Trump's nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), could be confirmed by the Senate. She was fired for her refusal to enforce Trump's travel ban, which targeted countries with terrorism problems.
Boente told the Washington Post that he would enforce Trump's executive order and formally rescinded Yates' directive on Monday night, telling Justice Department employees "to do our sworn duty and to defend the lawful orders of our president."
The White House said in a statement that Yates "betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States."
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeted the announcement Monday evening.
.@POTUS has named Dana Boente, US Attorney for the Eastern District of VA as Acting Attorney General. Sally Yates has been relieved.
— Sean Spicer (@PressSec) January 31, 2017
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday on Sessions' nomination and whether it should be advanced to the full Senate.