California Democratic legislative leaders paraded former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder through the Capitol Tuesday on his first visit since his firm signed a $25,000-a-month contract to assist state lawmakers with legal challenges against the Trump administration.
Flanked by Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Holder had little to say about his new role.
“I’m here just to assist these gentlemen and the people who they serve with in trying to protect the interests of the people of California,” Holder said.
A reporter followed up and asked how he was doing that. Holder’s response? “Well.”
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Rendon and de León were escorting Holder into a closed door meeting with Gov. Jerry Brown and his executive secretary Nancy McFadden. State Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined the conversation by phone.
Holder started the day giving a talk at the two-day Senate Democratic Caucus Policy Conference at the Sierra Health Foundation on Garden Highway. He also sat down with the Assembly Democratic Caucus to discuss his work for the Legislature over lunch.
Rendon similarly rebuffed questions about the work Holder and the caucus discussed.
“The conversation was protected by attorney-client privilege but we talked in general about some of the policies that we’re working on in the state,” Rendon said.
The California Legislature hired Holder and his Washington, D.C firm, Covington & Burlingon, last month. The firm has referred all questions about their work to the state.
Republican legislators were quick to condemn the hiring and questioned why the state needed to pay for outside counsel to handle issues that typically fall under the jurisdiction of the state attorney general.
Meanwhile, Becerra filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Monday in support of a lawsuit initiated last week by Washington state to overturn President Donald Trump’s travel and immigrant ban.
“We’re here to talk about what are we going to do collectively, the Assembly and the Senate, to do everything within our power and our own legal means to protect our policies, to protect the values and protect the people of California,” de León said outside Brown’s office. “I think it’s pretty simple and straightforward.”