Sally Quillian Yates

Born:August 20, 1960 (age 63)
Career:Acting U.S. attorney general, January 20, 2017 – January 30, 2017
U.S. deputy attorney general, 2015-2017
U.S. attorney, Northern District of Georgia, 2010-2015
Acting U.S. attorney, 2004
First assistant U.S. attorney, Northern District of Georgia, 2002-2010
Chief of Fraud and Public Corruption Section, Northern District of Georgia, 1994 - 2002
Assistant U.S. attorney, Northern District of Georgia, 1989-1994
Education:B.A., University of Georgia; J.D., University of Georgia School of Law

Sally Yates served as United States acting attorney general from January 20, 2017, following the departure of Attorney General Loretta Lynch after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, until being dismissed by Trump on January 30, 2017, following her instruction to the Justice Department not to defend Trump's immigration-related executive order in court.

Yates was born on born August 20, 1960, in Atlanta, Georgia as Sally Caroline Quillian. She received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism in 1982 from the University of Georgia and a Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1986. While in law school, Yates served as the executive editor of the Georgia Law Review. She was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in 1986.

From 1986 to 1989 Yates was an associate at with the firm King & Spalding in Atlanta, specializing in commercial litigation. In 1989, Yates was hired as assistant U.S. attorney for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia, and in 1994 she became chief of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section. In 2002, she became first assistant U.S. attorney, and in 2004 she became acting U.S. attorney. In 2010 She was nominated by President Barack Obama to be U.S. attorney in the Northern District of Georgia and was confirmed by the Senate on March 10, 2010; She was first woman to hold that position the Northern District of Georgia .

On January 8, 2015 Yates was nominated by Obama as deputy attorney general, and Yates was confirmed on May 13, 2015. During her confirmation hearing, when questioned by Senator Jeff Sessions if she would disobey a president's unlawful orders, Yates responded that she would have an obligation to follow the law and the Constitution, and to give an independent legal advice to the president.

In January 20, 2017, Yates began serving as acting attorney general, agreeing to serve until a successor for Attorney General Loretta Lynch was confirmed. On January 26 and 27, she warned the Trump administration that National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn had not been truthful about his contacts with Russia and that he was vulnerable to blackmail by Russian intelligence. On January 30, Yates ordered the Justice Department not to defend Trump's January 27 executive order on travel and immigration because she was not convinced it was lawful and was immediately dismissed by the Trump administration.

Yates returned as a partner to King & Spalding’s Special Matters and Government Investigations practice and he leads the firm’s Crisis Management practice. She co-chairs the Council on Criminal Justice’s Board of Trustees and is a member of the Ethics Research Center’s Board of Directors.


Clifford, C. (2017, January 31) “How Sally Yates’ life and career formed the principles that just got her fired” CNBC. Retrieved August 22, 2022.

King & Spalding (n.d.). “Sally Q. Yates” King & Spalding. Retrieved August 22, 2022.

Stracqualursi, V. (2017, May 8) “Everything you need to know about former acting Attorney General Sally Yates” CNBC. Retrieved August 22, 2022.