Sally Caroline Yates is an American lawyer, who served as the United States Attorney and later as the United States Deputy Attorney General. Born into a family of lawyers, she followed suit and took up education in the School of Law, University of Georgia. She was initially appointed as an Assistant U.S Attorney for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia. Over the years, she rose up the ladder and served as the Acting United States Attorney General until she was relieved from her duties by the Trump administration in 2017. She served as acting U.S Attorney for nearly three decades, under both Republican and Democratic governments. Among the several noteworthy steps taken by her are the ‘drug- clemency initiative’ supported by President Barack Obama, the structuring of the ‘Yates Memo; for corporate crimes, and the verdict against Domestic terrorist, Eric Rudolph, who was responsible for multiple bombings.
Childhood & Early Life
Sally Yates was born on 20 August 1960, in Atlanta, to J. Kelley Quillian and Xara Terrell Quillian. Her father was a judge who had served on the Georgia Court of Appeals between 1966 and 1984. She has a sister named Terell Quillian Marshall. Her grandmother, though not appointed as an attorney was one among the first women to be appointed to the Georgia bar.
Sally completed her graduation in Arts from the University of Georgia in 1982. In 1986, she earned the ‘Juris Doctor’ degree from the University of Georgia, School of Law. She graduated magna cum laude. While pursuing her studies she also worked as the executive editor for Georgia Law Review, which is the flagship publication of the University of Georgia, School of Law.
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Post her graduation, Sally Yates was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in 1986. Between 1986 and 1989 she worked with the law firm ‘King & Spalding’ in Atlanta as an associate. Later, in 1989 she was hired for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia as an Assistant U.S Attorney.
As part of her career, she got the opportunity to handle several cases including white collar frauds and corruption in politics. In 1994, she was appointed as the Chief of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section. During this time she was the lead prosecutor in the hearing of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing.
In 2002, she got promoted to become the First Assistant U.S. Attorney and subsequently became the Acting U.S. Attorney in 2004.
In 2010, she was confirmed as the U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Georgia, a position for which she was nominated by the then President Barack Obama. While serving in this position, she was also invited to take up the role as Vice Chair of the Attorney General's Advisory by Attorney General Eric Holder.
In 2015, The U.S Senate confirmed Sally Yates appointment as Deputy Attorney General of the United States, which is the second highest position in the United States Department of Justice. During her tenure as Deputy Attorney General, she introduced a policy known as ‘Yates memo’, which gives priority to the legal proceedings of corporate crimes.
In January 2017, she was offered the role of Acting Attorney General beginning from 20th January 2017 by the Trump administration. She was to serve the role until the successor for Attorney General Lynch is confirmed by the senate.
During this time, she warned the Trump administration that acting National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn had not been truthful about his contacts with Russia and that he was vulnerable to pressure or blackmail by the Russian Intelligence. This warning was reported by ‘The Washington Post’ and immediately afterwards Michael T. Flynn resigned.
On 30 January 2017, Sally Yates ordered the Justice department of USA, against defending President Donald Trump’s executive order on travel and immigration. Later that day, she received a hand delivered letter, informing her of her dismissal.
The White House released a statement which mentioned that she had ‘betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States’. She was immediately replaced by the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Dana Boente.
In March 2017 she was invited by the House Intelligence Committee to testify at a public hearing with respect to the ongoing investigation on the Russian active measures campaign focusing the U.S elections of 2016. However, the public hearing was cancelled by chairman Devin Nunes as Sally Yates’ testimony had not been discussed with the White House.
In May 2017, she along with retired lieutenant general James Clapper testified in the presence of the Senate Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Russian interference in the 2016 U.S presidential elections.
Sally Yates has been a prominent figure in the U.S Justice Department. She has been part of several famous cases and has been instrumental in various far reaching policy decisions. She authored what is famously known as “Yates Memo”; the policy prioritizes the prosecution of executives for corporate crimes.
She was the lead prosecutor in the case of Eric Rudolph, a terrorist who carried out a series of anti-abortion and anti-gay bombings across the southern United States between 1996 and 1998. Yates got him convicted.
Personal Life & Legacy
Kally Yates is married to Comer Yates, who is a school administrator. The couple has two children, a son named James Quillian Yates and daughter Kelley Malone Yates. The family currently lives in Atlanta.