Former Atlanta U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates is now officially the next Deputy Attorney Attorney General of the United States, after the U.S. Senate voted to confirm her this afternoon.
Yates was nominated by President Barack Obama nearly five months ago and has been serving in an acting capacity since January, but her confirmation was held up behind the roiling debate over Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Yates' new boss.
And because the Department of Justice has been in the political crosshairs, Yates' nomination brought some Republican blowback on the issue of immigration. The vote was 84-12.
Georgia Republican U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue both voted in favor of Yates.
A two-decade federal prosecutor in Atlanta, Yates tried public corruption cases against the likes of former Democratic Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell and former Republican Georgia schools superintendent Linda Schrenko. She also prosecuted Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph.
Said Isakson in a brief floor speech:
"Sally Quillian Yates is a human being I have known for almost 40 years. For 25 years she has been the lead prosecutor in the northern district of Georgia. She has been an equal opportunity prosecutor. She's prosecuted Democrats, Republicans, independents, Olympic park bombers, anybody that violated the public trust, any abuse of power."
Isakson also noted the fact that Yates was a "Double Dawg," with undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Georgia.
U.S. Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee praised both Georgia senators for pushing Yates' nomination, as Isakson spoke and Perdue presided over the debate -- a typical freshman duty. Leahy also offered some unhelpful comments for the Republicans who opposed Lynch, a group that included both Georgia senators:
"We’ll have an Attorney General and a Deputy Attorney General whose backgrounds are very similar. Both of whom have shown their ability as law enforcement officers. Both of whom have been prosecuting attorneys. They have similar views, as we saw during the confirmation hearings, on all the major issues."
Leahy also called Yates "an experienced and dedicated prosecutor with a well-deserved reputation," and noted she has already briefed the president on DOJ issues in her acting role.
Perdue in a post-vote prepared statement indicated that Yates would be different than Lynch.
“Sally Yates has represented Georgia well and shown that she is capable of restoring an objective approach to law enforcement. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I carefully reviewed Ms. Yates’ record and testimony, and I’m confident that she will bring an objective, apolitical approach to the Justice Department, which sorely needs it.”
None of the senators voting "no" spoke out on the floor. They included Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who holds the fifth-ranking post in Republican leadership; Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.; David Vitter, R-La. and Tom Cotton, R-Ark.
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