National News

Becerra on California vs. Trump

Posted May 4, 2018 10:39 a.m. EDT

When Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced this week that California would lead 16 other states in suing the Trump administration over federal efforts to roll back this state’s fuel emission standards, it was the 32nd time that California sued Washington. One would think that for Sacramento, it is all Trump all the time.

But Becerra, who was appointed to the post by Brown after Kamala Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate, wants you to know that is not the case. In a conversation with New York Times reporters in Los Angeles, Becerra said that, in fact, litigation directed at the Trump administration accounted for only a small portion of his legal energies.

“It’s a fraction,” he told The Times. “Nowhere near what you think. I’ve got 1,200 attorneys. My units — my sections that do non-Trump activity — outnumber, vastly, the units that do affirmative actions against the federal government.”

“Then again,” he said, “you have weeks like this one.”

About half of the 32 suits filed by California against the administration are in “the environmental space,” as Becerra put it, and many of them were aimed directly at Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The rest dealt with immigration, consumer affairs and health care.

Becerra acknowledged that some of his legal actions — particularly on immigration — could face dissent here in his home state. A number of California communities have joined the administration in filing suit against so-called sanctuary city laws, which are intended to limit the cooperation of local governments with federal immigration officials.

“People know where I’m going to go,” Becerra said. “I try to be very open with them about where we are going. And this is California.”

Even as he ticked off everything else his office was doing, Becerra said he was not surprised that the world thought that every filing that came out of Sacramento had the word “Trump” after the word “vs.”

“There’s a whole bunch that we are doing: It’s just that like everything else in the world, Donald Trump sucks up all the oxygen,” he said. “So everybody thinks California is just fixated on Donald Trump.”