Sally Yates saw her public profile soar after she defied President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban. Now, Georgia Democratic operatives and politicians are hoping the former acting attorney general will cash in some of that political capital with a gubernatorial run.
Yates received a standing ovation Wednesday night at a panel on race relations in Atlanta during one of her first public appearances since the end of her tumultuous 10-day tenure as the acting attorney general.
“I don’t think you can think of any possible candidates in Georgia and not mention Sally Yates’ name right now,” said Tharon Johnson, who was the national southern regional director for Obama’s 2012 campaign and a former adviser to Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed. “She’s a symbol of hope and resistance when it comes to standing up to Donald Trump.”
As acting attorney general, Yates instructed the Department of Justice to not enforce Trump’s controversial executive order banning travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries, for which she was removed from office. She also warned White House counsel Don McGahn that former national security adviser Michael Flynn may have opened himself to blackmail from Russia after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the contents of his phone call with a Russian ambassador.
Yates, a former U.S. attorney in Atlanta, attended the panel discussion with former attorney general Eric Holder. At one point, Holder yelled, “Holder/Yates 2020” in which an audience member shouted back, “More like Yates/Holder 2020.”
The former acting attorney general, asked by an audience member if she was planning on running for office, said she was “just here in the audience.” She declined to comment for this story.