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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Opening Statement of Acting Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates at US Senate Confirmation Hearing

Acting Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates released the following statement today at the opening of the U.S. Senate confirmation hearing:

“Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Leahy and Members of the Committee, it is an honor to appear before you today.  I am very grateful for this opportunity and for President Obama’s nomination.  I would also like to thank Senator Isakson, Senator Perdue and Congressman Lewis for their kind and generous introductions.  They have led remarkable lives of service to Georgia and to our country, and I am humbled by their confidence in me.    

“It is particularly meaningful for me to appear before you today surrounded by my family – my husband Comer, my daughter Kelley and my son Quill.  I am not only grateful to all of them for their love and support, but I am also incredibly proud of each of them.  My husband Comer, a lawyer by training, followed his heart and runs a school for children with learning disabilities and children who are deaf and hard of hearing.  My daughter Kelley is in her first year as a special education teacher.  My son, Quill, is a sophomore in college where he is studying political science and environmental policy.

“My only regret is that my parents, both of whom have passed away, are not here today.  They instilled in me a love of the law and a call to public service.  I come from a long line of lawyers on both sides of my family – lawyers and Methodist preachers.  Even my grandmother was a lawyer; in fact she was one of the earliest women admitted to the Georgia Bar.  And even though she was probably the smartest one in the bunch, law firms didn’t hire many women to practice law in those days, so she was a legal secretary instead.  My father and his father before him were state appellate court judges, and they demonstrated by example that the law is an instrument for ensuring that right is done in the world.  My father died shortly before I graduated from law school, but I vividly recall him counseling me while I was in school to make sure that the work I chose when I graduated was more than just a job or a way to earn a living.  Rather, he believed that we have an obligation to use our legal education for a greater good and he encouraged me to find a path where I could make a real difference in the world.

“That path took me to the Department of Justice.  I joined the U. S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta in the fall of 1989, and the Department of Justice has been my home ever since.  When I joined the U.S Attorney’s Office, I certainly didn’t expect that I would still be with the Department of Justice 25 years later.  But once I experienced the privilege of representing the people of the United States – of doing what I believed was right, and fair and just in every case – anything else would have felt like just a job.

“Bob Barr, then the U.S. Attorney of the Northern District of Georgia, entrusted me with my first position in the department – that of a line prosecutor.  I began the way all young prosecutors do – by investigating and trying cases; by working with agents and witnesses and victims to keep my fellow citizens safe and to ensure that those who harmed our community were held accountable.  Over time, my cases became more complex and I assumed leadership positions within the office – Chief of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section; First Assistant U.S. Attorney; and eventually the first female United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.  Throughout this time, I carried with me the values instilled by my family – that the law can be an instrument for good, but only when it is applied fairly, thoughtfully and objectively.  I believe it is a credit to the institution I love that I have held leadership positions through Republican and Democratic administrations, and that I have witnessed career men and women of the department consistently following the facts and the law with great distinction and without regard to politics.

“Over the years, I have seen the department from a variety of vantage points.  I personally prosecuted public corruption, regardless of party, and led our team in holding accountable the Olympic bomber, Eric Rudolph.  As a supervisor, I have ensured that our office had the expertise, resources and focus to go after worst of the worst, whether they were international gangs, human trafficking rings or cybercriminals.  As the U.S. Attorney, I was the vice chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, and gained additional insight into the unique challenges each U.S. Attorney’s Office across the country faces—challenges that I know you each hear about from your constituents.  When the President nominated me, a career prosecutor, to be the Deputy Attorney General, it was the greatest honor that I could imagine.

“I am proud to say that in the brief period during which I have served as the Acting Deputy Attorney General, I have seen on a national scale the same skill, care and dedication in our attorneys that I knew in the Northern District of Georgia.  In taking on the day-to-day operations of the department, its $27 billion budget, and its 114,000 employees, I also understand that we face critical national security and public safety challenges.  I believe that we can work together on these challenges, and in my role as Chief Operating Officer of the department, I will be committed to ensuring that the resources Congress provides to the department are used as effectively as possible to protect public we all serve. 

“I know that several of you have served previously at the department and share my love of this great institution.  As you all know, the Department of Justice is unique among cabinet agencies; it is, and must be, independent and non-partisan.  We don’t represent an ordinary client, and as representatives of the people, we must always be governed by doing what is just.  This has been my life’s work.  And if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed, I can promise you that I will spend each and every moment guided solely by the department’s singular mission to seek justice. 

“Thank you.  I look forward to your questions.”

Press Release Number: 
Updated March 24, 2015