SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – Anticipating a showdown with the incoming Trump administration over immigration and environmental issues, Democratic leaders in the California Legislature said Wednesday they will hire former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s firm as outside counsel.
State Assembly and Senate leaders said the preemptive move will help the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown’s state attorney general nominee Xavier Becerra fight any “attempts to roll back the progress California has made” by President-elect Donald Trump.
“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,” state Senate President pro Tem Kevin de Leon and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said in a statement.
Holder, a New York native, served as the nation’s top lawyer under President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2015, and was the nation’s first black attorney general. He returned as a litigation partner at the firm Covington & Burling after leaving the Justice Department.
“I am honored that the Legislature chose Covington to serve as its legal adviser as it considers how to respond to potential changes in federal law that could impact California’s residents and policy priorities. I am confident that our expertise across a wide array of federal legal and regulatory issues will be a great resource to the legislature,” Holder said in a statement.
Signing Holder’s firm is the latest in a series of provocative and brazen moves by Rendon and De Leon. The Democratic leaders attacked Trump on the first day of the legislative session, accusing him of appointing a cabinet full of “bullies, bigots and billionaires.”
The duo has also proposed legislation that would prevent state and local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal immigration agents, and promised to build a “wall of justice” for California’s millions of undocumented immigrants. Democrats in the statehouse have also proposed measures that would require presidential candidates to release their tax returns.
Holder’s stint at the Justice Department focused on criminal justice reform and civil rights issues, including fights against voter identification requirements and defending same-sex marriage. He has since been involved in efforts to change redistricting laws.
The Legislature last hired outside counsel to assist in the federal investigation of former state Sen. Ron Calderon in 2014. Calderon later admitted to accepting bribes and was sentenced to 42 months in prison.
Lawmakers did not disclose the negotiated cost for Covington & Burling’s legal services.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.