Sally Quillian Yates doesn’t dabble in elected politics often. Though she’s an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, rarely has the former federal prosecutor waded into the messier machinery of campaign maneuvering.
That’s why her decision on Thursday to endorse former Joe Biden stands out amid the other Georgia Democrats who have recently backed his presidential bid over Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
In an interview, Yates said she’s quietly supported the former vice president for months but will now loudly advocate for him ahead of the state’s March 24 primary.
“At its core, I’m supporting Joe Biden because I trust him. I trust his judgment, and his character,” she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I trust him to make decisions for the right reasons, and to put our country’s interest first and to unite us rather than divide us.”
Yates became an icon to many Democrats when, as the Acting U.S. Attorney General in the early days of Trump’s administration, she ordered the Justice Department not to defend the Republican’s immigration policy in court. Trump fired her hours later.
Often mentioned as a potential Cabinet appointee in a Democratic White House, Yates echoed in the interview what she often expresses at events.
“I’m not a particularly political person. This is unusual for me. But I feel really strongly about this. When the vice president says this is about the soul of America, that’s not hyperbole. There’s a lot at stake – too much at stake – to sit on the sidelines. That’s why I wanted to step up and do what I can.”
She was asked whether there was a moment she decided to endorse Biden over Sanders rather than just wait it out.
“I guess I’ve watched over the last three years what’s happened to our country. We can survive four years of our current president. I have to tell you, though, at the end of eight years we’re not going to recognize the country that we’ve become,” she said.
“This election is that important. This is why you see a lot of people are active now that might not have been on the front lines of political campaigns before. It’s just not the same as it was before.”
She joins a growing number of prominent Democrats who have sided with Biden, including some who expressed fears that Sanders could endanger down-ticket candidates.
Just this week, former Gov. Roy Barnes, U.S. Reps. Lucy McBath and Sanford Bishop, and House Minority Leader Bob Trammell all endorsed Biden’s bid.
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