White House press secretary Sean Spicer suggested Tuesday that if federal employees refuse to follow President Donald Trump’s “orders,” they should expect to be fired.
Responding to a question on fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates’ letter to Justice Department lawyers ordering them not to defend Trump’s travel ban, Spicer said it “is the right of every American to express their idea and opinion.” But he insisted that Yates’ letter went further than that.
“There’s a difference when she, as the acting attorney general, is not only responsible but required to execute lawful orders and defiantly says no,” he said. “As someone who was chosen to lead a department, she was rightfully removed.”
Spicer said the position of acting attorney general is “given to somebody who is supposed to execute orders that are handed down to them properly,” and said that was “100 percent done” in the case of Trump’s executive order temporarily barring visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
“So is the President laying down a marker now to all of his cabinet secretaries and all of his other officials to say, ‘If I give you a directive and do you not follow it you’re gone’?” a reporter pressed.
“I think that that kind of comes with the job, right?” Spicer responded. “Every one of the appointees understand that they serve at the pleasure of the President.”
He said Trump was “very clear” about his agenda during his campaign and transition to the presidency.
“It is his job to lay that vision out and that the people that he nominates and announces as staff members or cabinet-level members or agency heads, their job is to fulfill that,” Spicer said. “And if they don’t like it, then they shouldn’t take the job.”
After Yates told DOJ lawyers not to defend the order, the White House announced that it had fired her in a statement that accused her of having “betrayed the Department of Justice.”
Watch his response below: