On Tuesday, former Attorney General Eric Holder, one of President Barack Obama’s longest serving Cabinet members, paid a visit to one of his newest clients: the California State Legislature.
Holder, who returned back to private practice as a partner with the law firm of Convington and Burling in the fall of 2015, was hired by the California legislature as part of an aggressive posturing by California’s Democratic leaders against the presidency and policies of Donald Trump.
On November 9, the day after Trump won the election, State Senate President Kevin De Léon and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon issued a strong joint statement that began with them saying that they “… woke up feeling like strangers in a foreign land …”.
The statement went on to say, in part, “While Donald Trump may have won the presidency, he hasn’t changed our values. America is great than any one many or party. We will not be dragged back into the past. We will lead the resistance to any effort that would shred our social fabric or our constitution.”
In January, as the legislature was hiring Holder, Democratic Governor Jerry Brown delivered a fiery State of the State Address, issuing a de facto broadside against the then-President-elect, making it clear that the State of California would defend itself against efforts by the federal government to encroach on the Golden State’s ability to protect illegal aliens, preserve government healthcare, and continue programs designed to combat global warming.
When the hiring of Holder was announced in early January, it was revealed that his firm would be paid $25,000 a month. But it remains unclear exactly what Holder will be doing for that hefty compensation. And whatever he is doing is apparently being kept under wraps.
At the State Capitol on Tuesda,y Holder, along with a phalanx of lawyers from his office, spent the morning in separate meetings with the State Senate and State Assembly Democratic Caucuses – and then in the afternoon they met with Governor Brown, De Léon and Rendon behind closed doors (with newly-appointed Attorney General Xavier Bacerra not present, but calling in).
It is noteworthy that the legislature’s minority Republican members were specifically excluded from the meetings that Holder had with Democrats — which is concerning, because Holder and his firm are being paid with taxpayer funds.
Holder made a brief appearance outside of the governor’s office to make a statement to the press. He said: “I’m here just to assist these gentlemen and the people they serve in trying to protect the interest of the people of California.”
But when questioned further on how he would do that, Holder coyly responded, “Well…”.
The strong posturing by California Democrats is setting the table for a major battle between President Trump and the Republican Congress on the one hand, and the ideologically left-wing leaders of the largest state in the union.
Yesterday’s confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a harbinger for what will likely be the first point of confrontation. Sessions, like President Trump, is an immigration hard-liner, and we can expect the Justice Department to start cracking down on “sanctuary cities” (many of which are in California) right away, which can mean cuts in federal funding. There are other, even more controversial tools available to Session to deal with those flaunting American laws.
The response to this threat to sanctuary cities Democrats in the legislature? De Léon has introduced and fast-tracked Senate Bill 54, which would in essence make California a sanctuary state, by restricting all local law enforcement agencies throughout the state from cooperating with the federal immigration authorities.
Of course, no state in the union is more invested in Obamacare than California, and Democrats fear (for good reason) that Republicans in Washington will soon be removing the federal funding for this program, leaving Sacramento Democrats with a massive hole (estimated to be more than $15 billion dollars) in their considerable state budget, as well as considerable heartache.
As President of the United States, Donald Trump is America’s leader and Commander-in-Chief. He will face many foreign policy challenges all around the globe. But many of those may pale in comparison to the policy war that is about to take place between the United States of America and her largest state.
This promises to be one hell of a match, with the fighters having taken their corners.
Jon Fleischman is Politics Editor for Breitbart California. His columns appear regularly on this page. He has been a participant and observer of California politics and policy for nearly three decades. You can follow him on Twitter here.