Here is another ethics aspect of the disgraceful Sally Yates episode that the complicit news media isn’t covering: it was unethical for her to accept the job of acting Attorney General in the first place.
She had an apparent conflict of interest when she was offered the job. This is indisputable; it’s just being ignored by fawning partisans. Here is the applicable ethics rule of Yates’ bar and jurisdiction:
Rule 1.7–Conflict of Interest: General Rule
(a) A lawyer shall not advance two or more adverse positions in the same matter.
(b) Except as permitted by paragraph (c) below, a lawyer shall not represent a client with respect to a matter if:
(1) That matter involves a specific party or parties and a position to be taken by that client in that matter is adverse to a position taken or to be taken by another client in the same matter even though that client is unrepresented or represented by a different lawyer;
(2) Such representation will be or is likely to be adversely affected by representation of another client;
(3) Representation of another client will be or is likely to be adversely affected by such representation;
(4) The lawyer’s professional judgment on behalf of the client will be or reasonably may be adversely affected by the lawyer’s responsibilities to or interests in a third party or the lawyer’s own financial, business, property, or personal interests.
(c) A lawyer may represent a client with respect to a matter in the circumstances described in paragraph (b) above if
(1) Each potentially affected client provides informed consent to such representation after full disclosure of the existence and nature of the possible conflict and the possible adverse consequences of such representation; and
(2) The lawyer reasonably believes that the lawyer will be able to provide competent and diligent representation to each affected client.
(d) If a conflict not reasonably foreseeable at the outset of representation arises under paragraph (b)(1) after the representation commences, and is not waived under paragraph (c), a lawyer need not withdraw from any representation unless the conflict also arises under paragraphs (b)(2), (b)(3), or (b)(4).
President Trump displayed his trust in Yates’ professionalism and loyalty to the United States when he offered her the job of acting as the Attorney General until his designated choice for the job, Senator Jeff Sessions, was confirmed by the Senate. Yates had a disqualifying conflict under 1.7 b 4 above, a personal conflict caused by her pre-existing loyalties and personal interests in furthering the agenda of the Democratic party and her own partisan goals.
She was bound by the ethics of her profession to inform Trump of that conflict, a serious and disqualifying one, so he could knowingly waive it (or choose another acting AG). If he did knowingly waive her conflicts, counting on her professionalism and ethics, Yates still could not ethically accept the representation without sincerely believing that her personal interests and loyalty to third parties—like the Democratic Party and the declared foes of the Trump Administration—would not affect her judgment to the detriment of her client. She could not have sincerely believed that, as demonstrated by the fact that the very first time she was called upon to act in her client’s interest, she defaulted to her loyalty to those third parties and personal biases.
This is as blatant an example of a lawyer intentionally ignoring a conflict of interest and deceiving a client about her ability to fulfill a representation zealously and loyally as I have ever seen or heard about.
Any news report on the Yates episode that does not emphasize her intentional breach of her ethical duties is biased, incompetent, or intentionally misinforming the public.