Sally Yates, who served as acting attorney general at the start of the Trump administration, pilloried the president on Tuesday for what she described as his abuse of the executive branch – particularly her former agency, the Department of Justice.
“From the moment President Trump took office, he’s used his position to benefit himself rather than our country,” she said during her speech from Atlanta on the second night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. “He’s trampled the rule of law, tried to weaponize the Justice Department to attack his enemies and protect his friends.”
Yates, who served as acting attorney general for just 10 days before Trump fired her for refusing to implement his ban on people traveling from several Muslim-majority countries, was one of the first in a long line of career civil servants Trump has dismissed for opposing his policies.
Several months after Yates was fired, her former colleague James Comey, the then-FBI director, was likewise dismissed after he refused to defend Trump during the early days of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
National security officials and lawmakers alike have said Russia is still trying to meddle in the upcoming 2020 elections, sowing chaos and planting distrust in the reliability of the U.S. voting process.
Yates, who spent 30 years in public service, also said that Trump, “rather than standing up to Vladimir Putin … fawns over a dictator who is still trying to interfere in our elections.”
She also addressed news that Trump has refused to allocate funds to the U.S. Postal Service, leading to uncertainty over whether ballots mailed to vote in the election will be received on time to be counted. “He’s even trying to sabotage our Postal Service to keep people from being able to vote,” she said.
It is unusual for a career public servant from the Department of Justice to speak at a political event for a specific political party. Yates said speaking at the DNC “is something I never expected to do.” However, she said she chose to accept the opportunity because “The future of our democracy is at stake.”
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