Democrats viewed Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates testifying before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee about Michael Flynn and Trump’s ties to Russia as the main event.

They were expecting a political earthquake that would shake the Trump administration to its core.

Instead she revealed she was part of the deep state conspiracy to sabotage Trump.

Yates first came to public prominence when she was fired on January 30th.

Trump removed her because – as acting Attorney General – she refused to order the Justice Department to defend Trump’s travel ban executive order in court.

In January, she claimed she couldn’t defend the executive order in court because of policy considerations and being unsure if the order was lawful.

Jack Goldsmith – a former George W. Bush Justice Department official – wrote on his lawfare blog about Yates’ reasoning:

“As I explained in my post, Yates’ did not say in her letter that she has concluded that the EO is unlawful.  Nor did she say that no reasonable arguments could be made in defense of the EO.  Instead, she gave a series of muddled reasons for her decisions, some based on her uncertainty whether the EO was lawful under the “best view” of the law under all of the facts (which was not remotely the right standard), and some based on policy considerations (which should have been irrelevant to the decision to defend a presidential order).”

But in her testimony, Yates changed her story claiming the order was unlawful – not based on the text – but based on campaign statements made by Donald Trump.

Yates claimed that no truthful argument could be made on behalf of the executive order because it was based on the lie that it was really a covert Muslim ban.

This is an outrageous position that led critics to call for Yates to be disbarred.

She also added that she believed the order was unlawful.

This was a stark reversal from her prior letter.

Did Yates change her story based on the reasoning of liberal Justices who temporarily halted the executive order?

It appears that may be the case.

Another fact that undermines Yates is that the Department of Justice traditionally defends an executive order in court under the theory that it is considered lawful once the President issues it.

Goldsmith also wrote:

“I did not write this in my original January post, but the reasonableness standard is the one the Department employs for defending congressional statutes.  As Marty Lederman noted in our podcast debate, the Department traditionally always defends an EO on the theory that the President has determined it to be lawful.  As Marty stated: “As long as the President’s view is that it’s lawful, of course the Department of Justice will defend its legality in court because the President gets the final word on how the Executive branch and the Department in particular, what position they take in court.”  On this view, which is probably right, Yates views about the legality of the EO were technically irrelevant.  But that is another story altogether which I lack time now to explore.”

Yates’ original letter gave the impression she believed the travel ban was legal, but refused to defend it.

In her Congressional testimony, she changed her tune.

Her bureaucratic sabotage was consistent with the deep state campaign to wage war on the Trump administration.