California legislative leaders hired former US Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. as an outside counsel to assist in likely legal wars with the incoming President-elect Donald Trump's administration at the federal court. The unconventional arrangement was announced as the California Legislature resumed session on Wednesday, emphasizing the limit to which the action in Sacramento will be shaped by Trump's administration in the coming months.
Holder, who is now an attorney at the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP in Washington DC, will be heading a team of lawyers to contest the policies of the Trump administration. Holder is sought to litigate issues related to climate change, civil and women rights, immigration, the environment and voting rights. Howard Berman, former Los Angeles representative and a Democrat, is now a senior advisor in the firm and will participate in the effort.
Governor Jerry Brown on Tuesday formally nominated Democratic representative Xavier Becerra to replace Kamala Harris, the former AG, who currently serves in the United States senate. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and De Leon began considering hiring outside legal counsel for the California Legislature almost immediately after the election, in hopes of safeguarding existing policies of the state, where conflicts between the state and federal policies prevail.
Anthony Render expresses concern over the impending deportation action, expanded healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act, and environmental policies by Trump, and considers the Covington team a useful resource to protect Californians. Both the legislative leaders assume a defensive posture against Trump in California, where votes for Hillary Clinton exceeded his by a wide margin. Rendon described Trump's presidency as a “major existential threat”, and underscored the need to have a strong combative strategy.
The additional counsel is expected to complement and offer heft to the efforts of the state AG. However, the arrangement paints a vague picture of how Holder's efforts will match with or differ from those of Becerra's. The final cost to the state also remains unclear, as the initial contract between the legislature and the firm sums up the cost to be $75,000 for three months, an amount to be divided between the operating budgets of the two chambers.
Along with representing California legislative leaders against Trump, he will also oversee a Democratic campaign underscoring redistricting, which intends to redraw political maps that have shifted the political landscape in favor of the Republicans. De Leon expresses his zeal to protect the Californians against Democratic policies that undermine the values of the country.