California Republican challenges state’s hiring of Eric Holder to fight Trump policies

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By Sharon Bernstein | SACRAMENTO, Calif.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. A California Republican state
lawmaker is challenging the legality of a move by Democrats in
the legislature to hire former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
to help in any legal battles with President-elect Donald Trump’s
administration.

Assembly member Kevin Kiley has requested a formal ruling
from state lawyers on whether the decision by Democratic
legislative leaders to hire Holder and his firm, Covington &
Burling, for $25,000 a month violated a provision in the state’s
constitution that bans hiring outside counsel for work the
state’s own lawyers can do.

“People might have differing feelings about Eric Holder and
about the incoming presidential administration, but all of us
should be able to agree that as legislators we have a duty to
abide by the law,” Kiley, an attorney, said in a phone interview
on Monday.

Kiley’s request came on the eve of hearings in the
Democratic-led legislature on the nomination of U.S.
Representative Xavier Becerra as state attorney general, another
move by Democrats to position California to defend its liberal
policies against the Republican Trump. America’s most populous
state voted heavily for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8
presidential election.

Under the Trump administration, which takes office on Jan.
20, California is expected to take a role similar to that played
by Texas, Kansas and other conservative states during Democratic
President Barack Obama’s administration. Those states mounted
legal challenges to Obama’s executive orders and federal
policies on such issues as healthcare, immigration and the
environment.

California Republicans have been mostly quiet on Democratic
Governor Jerry Brown’s nomination of Becerra. But the hiring of
Holder, who was Obama’s attorney general from 2009 to 2015,
prompted an outpouring of protest from Republican lawmakers.

“Democrats should focus on solving these real-world problems
instead of wasting tax-payer money to score political points
before the president-elect even takes office,” Assembly
Republican leader Chad Mayes said in a statement.

Kevin Liao, a spokesman for Democratic state Assembly
Speaker Anthony Rendon said on Monday his office had conferred
with the state Legislative Counsel and other legal sources
before hiring Holder’s firm.

He disagreed the hiring was prohibited, saying the
constitutional ban referred to hiring by the executive branch of
government and not the legislature.

Liao added that legislature needed legal advice from
attorneys experienced in dealing with federal agencies and
federal law – cases in which the state attorney general’s office
does not specialize.



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