There have been more than a few interesting moments in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Sally Yates and James Clapper. But Senator Cornyn decided to ignore the purpose of the hearing altogether and instead accuse Yates of something nefarious with regard to Trump's Muslim ban.
There was back and forth between the two of them over her decision and instruction to the DOJ not to defend Trump's Muslim ban.
Cornyn then scolded Yates, saying, "Miss Yates, you had a distinguished career for 27 years at the Department of Justice and I -- I voted for your confirmation because I believed that you had a distinguished career, but i have to tell you that i find it enormously disappointing that you somehow vetoed the decision of the Office of Legal Counsel with regard to the lawfulness of the president's order and decided instead that you would countermand the President of the United States because you happen to disagree with it as a policy matter."
He shouldn't have done that. Yates was prepared.
"Let me make one thing clear," Yates shot back. "It was not purely as a policy matter. In fact, I remember my confirmation hearing. In an exchange that I had with you and other of your colleagues where you specifically asked me in that hearing that if the president asked me to do something that was unlawful or unconstitutional, and one of your colleagues said or even just that would reflect poorly on the Department of Justice, would I say no, and I looked at this, I made it a determination that I believed that it was unlawful. I also thought that it was inconsistent with principles of the Department of Justice and I said no."
"That's what I promised you I would do and that's what I did," she added.
In one final attempt to twist Yates' words, Cornyn countered, "I don't know how you can say that it was lawful and say that it was within your prerogative to refuse to defend it in a court of law and leave it for the court to decide."
Yates got the last word. "Senator, I did not say it was lawful. I said it was unlawful."
Of course, when Cornyn asked her about whether she'd refuse to defend executive orders, he fully expected those to be President Obama's orders, not Trump's. It was good of Ms. Yates to remind him of that.