WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates has a new job at her old law firm.
Atlanta-based King & Spalding on Tuesday announced that Yates is returning to the firm where she began her legal career more than 30 years ago. Yates was the Justice Department’s No. 2 official at the end of the Obama administration and acting attorney general for the first 10 days of the Trump administration. President Donald Trump fired her for refusing to defend his travel ban. Since then, she’s made public appearances and given lectures, publicly criticizing Trump and voicing her support for an independent FBI and Justice Department.
Yates will divide her time between Atlanta, where she lives, and Washington.
“It’s been a little more than a few years, but I’m making it back,” Yates told The Associated Press in an interview this week.
Yates said that in her new job she’ll help conduct investigations on behalf of corporations and large institutions that face accusations of, or have reason to suspect, wrongdoing within their own ranks, especially at high levels. She said investigations into sexual misconduct at the workplace, which have become more prevalent during the #MeToo movement, illustrate the value of having an independent review when problems arise at companies.
“They need to be able to do it in a thorough, authoritative and credible way — and it has to be done fairly,” Yates told the AP. “The goal here is that you get to the bottom of it, and you call it straight.”
Yates was the U.S. attorney in Atlanta when President Barack Obama nominated her for the deputy attorney general job in January 2015. As the No. 2 official in the Justice Department, she championed shorter sentences for nonviolent drug defendants and encouraged prosecutors to build criminal fraud cases when possible in investigations of corporate executives.
She was acting attorney general when Trump took office. In the 10 days that followed, she warned the White House that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail because of his Russian contacts. She was ultimately fired for telling the Justice Department that she would not defend a Trump travel ban that barred visitors from several Muslim-majority nations.
More recently, she’s been a visiting lecturer at Georgetown University’s law school, where she’s spoken on democracy and government, and has used her platform of 586,000 Twitter followers to repeatedly criticize Trump for comments she says threaten the Justice Department’s independence.
Despite speculation, Yates said she has no plans to run for office — “I think I’ve been really clear that that’s just not something I’m interested in.”
She said during her time away from government she reflected on what she missed about her old job— and what she didn’t.
“What I realized I missed was being a lawyer, what I had been doing for the last 27 years,” she said.