Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, seen here testifying in front of Congress in 2012, has been retained by the California Legislature as outside legal counsel. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Gearing up for a Trump Administration, California lawmakers retained the legal services of the law firm of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
State Democrat party leaders said Wednesday they had retained Holder’s firm at a rate of $25,000 a month to defend the legislature against possible action from a newly Republican White House.
“Having the former attorney general of the United States brings us a lot of firepower in order to prepare to safeguard the values of the people of California,” state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León told The New York Times. “This means we are very, very serious.”
As the nation’s 82nd Attorney General, Holder had a long history of controversial stands on smart gun technology, states’ rights, contempt of Congress citations in the Fast and Furious gun walking scandal, and other issues.
He was both the first African-American to hold the position of U.S. Attorney General and the only cabinet member in U.S. history to be held in contempt of Congress.
Since leaving government office in 2015, he has returned to private practice with the same law firm he worked at before joining President Obama’s cabinet. That firm, Covington and Burling, represents several large banks that Holder, as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, declined to prosecute for their role in the 2007-2008 Financial Crisis.
Holder’s firm is also lending their legal expertise to the Firearms Accountability Counsel Taskforce, a group of high-power firms with plans to commit tens of millions of dollars in pro bono legal services for gun control efforts.
An avid champion last year for Democratic Presidental candidate, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — who won California by an almost 2-1 margin at the polls — Holder’s retention is drawing fire from across the aisle.
“What’s the rush? What’s the issue? What’s the problem?” asked Senate Republican leader Jean Fuller, who said Holder was hired without the Legislature’s input. “I’m very, very confused as to why the taxpayers are being asked to pay for this particular expense.”
Holder is expected to work with former U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calf., who served as the state’s Deputy Attorney General from 1987 to 1990 and has been nominated by Gov. Jerry Brown to fill the empty post of California Attorney General Kamala Harris. Expected to confirmed in coming weeks by the Democrat-controlled state legislature, Becerra has been candid in his eagerness to take on potential challenges from a Republican-dominated Washington.
“If you want to take on a forward-leaning state that is prepared to defend its rights and interests, then come at us,” Becerra said.
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