U.S. President Donald Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she ordered the Department of Justice's lawyers not to defend the president's executive order temporarily restricting immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, regardless of the visas that they hold.
The White House said in a news release that Yates "betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States."
"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," the White House said in the statement.
Yates, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama and who served as deputy attorney general under the previous administration, was replaced by Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, who will serve on an interim basis while Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., awaits Senate confirmation hearings for his appointment.
Boente said in the statement that he will "defend and enforce" the country's laws to ensure the protection of its citizens.
In her letter to the Justice Department's lawyers, Yates had said she is "not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent" with her responsibilities to ensure that the position of the department is "legally defensible," nor is she convinced that the executive order is lawful.
Trump on Jan. 27 ordered the temporary travel ban against citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen to "protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals" admitted to the country, prompting strong backlash from business leaders and protests at airports across the U.S. over the weekend.