Former U.S. AG Holder hired to help California fend off Trump White House

"We have an idea of what we'll be dealing with come January 20. We must be prepared," Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said Wednesday.
By Doug G. Ware  |  Jan. 4, 2017 at 5:21 PM
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SACRAMENTO, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- The man who served for more than six years as the top law enforcement official in the United States will now look after the interests of California's government, as outside legal counsel.

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder has been retained for the new role by the California Assembly, state lawmakers announced Wednesday -- as legal firepower to fend off potentially unsavory policies from the administration of Republican Donald Trump.

Holder, 65, who served for a decade in the top level of the U.S. Department of Justice under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, will now help one of the most Democratic states in the country stand its ground against a conservative White House.

"With the upcoming change in administrations, we expect that there will be extraordinary challenges for California in the uncertain times ahead," California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said in a joint statement Wednesday. "This is a critical moment in the history of our nation. We have an obligation to defend the people who elected us and the policies and diversity that make California an example of what truly makes a nation great."

As outside legal counsel, Holder is expected to work in concert with California attorney general appointee Xavier Becerra -- who was nominated by Gov. Jerry Brown last month to replace now-Sen. Kamala Harris.

De León and Rendon said they view Holder as a great weapon to fight any attempt by Trump "to roll back the progress California has made" -- especially in the potentially-vulnerable areas of immigration, climate change and criminal justice.

Holder, appointed to the top Justice post by Obama, was a solid supporter of Hillary Clinton during last year's campaign and even tweeted after her surprise defeat that, "this is vote fraud/rigged elections. Our democracy is weakened when American citizens can't vote." He also criticized FBI Director James Comey for his decision to announce a new review into Clinton's email investigation just a week before the election.

The former attorney general now practices law in the private sector at the firm Covington & Burling.

"I am honored that the legislature chose Covington to serve as its legal advisor as it considers how to respond to potential changes in federal law that could impact California's residents and policy priorities," Holder said. "I am confident that our expertise across a wide array of federal legal and regulatory issues will be a great resource to the legislature."

"With Trump's campaign, appointments and Twitter feed, we have an idea of what we'll be dealing with come January 20. We must be prepared," Rendon said in a tweet Wednesday. "Our progress, from climate change to the Affordable Care Act to immigration, is on the line."

"This is potentially the legal fight of a generation," de León added. "Legal firepower of Eric Holder is clear message to all Californians we have their backs."

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