President-elect Donald Trump never won the hearts and minds of the people in California, losing to his opponent Hillary Clinton there by 4.2 million popular votes. So it should come as no surprise Golden State leaders are promising to fight him, and the purported sweeping conservative agenda the GOP has prepared, every step of the way. And they’ve hired former President Barack Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder to help them do it.
The New York Times reports that Democrats in the California state legislature are “girding for four years of potential battles” with Trump and, in a fit of ideological pique, have retained Holder — now a prominent Washington attorney — to help them “safeguard the values of the people of California.” From The Times:
In a state where every statewide elected official is a Democrat, it’s hardly surprising there would be such strident opposition to an administration that has promised to dismantle many of the policies instituted by the progressive president that preceded him. California appears to be banking on the tactic of using a former administration official of the preceding progressive administration — one who knows how Washington works — to help, very frankly, obstruct some of the policies they worry might be implemented by a Republican-controlled federal government.Kevin de León, the Democratic leader of the Senate, said in an interview…he expected California to challenge Washington — and defend itself from policies instituted in Washington — on issues including the environment, immigration and criminal justice. He said California Democrats decided to turn to Mr. Holder as they watched Mr. Trump assemble his cabinet and begin to set the tone for his presidency.
If that is their goal, Holder would seem to be just the man for the job. Despite this rosy profile from Politico magazine explaining the timing for his decision to leave the Obama administration in early September of 2014 (“The keenly legacy-conscious Holder has never been in better standing, leaving on arguably the highest personal note of his tenure, after a year of progress on his plan to reform sentencing laws and just after his well-received, calming-the-waters trip to Ferguson, Missouri, during the riots in August,” they write), Holder’s term was anything but scandal-free.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s email response to news of Holder’s decision to step down summed up how many Republicans viewed the attorney general — and friend — of Obama at the time.
“I welcome the news that Eric Holder will step down as Attorney General. From Operation Fast and Furious to his misleading testimony before the House Judiciary Committee regarding the Department’s dealings with members of the media and his refusal to appoint a special counsel to investigate the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups, Mr. Holder has consistently played partisan politics with many of the important issues facing the Justice Department.”
He also drew the ire of members of his own party for facilitating, while deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton, the last-minute pardon of notorious commodities trader and tax evader Marc Rich. Rich was indicted in 1983 for “tax evasion, wire fraud, racketeering and trading with the enemy,” and promptly fled the country.
California is apparently looking to harness those qualities to help battle the Trump administration. From The Times:
California, who has embraced globalism perhaps more than any other state, faces a potentially serious loss of revenue if Trump is successful in implementing his trade and immigration policies, economists say.The Legislature has an ample stable of lawyers on staff, but officials said Mr. Holder and his firm brought specific litigation and political skills that could be needed in the coming years. Mr. de León said the final compensation for the firm had not been set, but would be publicly disclosed once it was.
“The cost will be very minimal compared to the billions of dollars at stake if California doesn’t adequately make its case,” he said.