WASHINGTON: In a dramatic move, US President Donald Trump today fired two top officials, including Acting Attorney General Sally Yates who refused to defend his executive order banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations from entering to the US.
"(Yates) has betrayed the Department of Justice," the White House said in a statement announcing the removal of the Obama Administration appointee.
Trump did not call Yates to dismiss her, she was informed by hand-delivered letter.
The move came soon after Yates told Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments defending Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees.
"At present, I am not convinced that the defence of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities, nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful," Yates wrote in a letter to Justice Department lawyers.
The White House said, "Ms Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration."
"It is time to get serious about protecting our country. Calling for tougher vetting for individuals travelling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country," it said.
The White House named Dana Boente as the new Acting Attorney General till time its nominee Senator Jeff Sessions is confirmed by the US Senate.
"I am honoured to serve President Trump in this role until Senator Sessions is confirmed. I will defend and enforce the laws of our country to ensure that our people and our nation are protected," Boente said.
Hours after firing Yates, Trump replaced acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Daniel Ragsdale with Thomas D Homan.
The Homeland Security Secretary Gen (rtd) John Kelly said,
"I am confident that he will continue to serve as a strong, effective leader for the men and women of ICE. I look forward to working alongside him to ensure that we enforce our
immigration laws in the interior of the United States consistent with the national interest."
Kelly's statement did not mention the reason for replacing Ragsdale.
Trump's executive order bars citizens of seven Muslim- majority countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days, suspends the admission of all refugees for 120 days and indefinitely suspends the Syrian refugee program.