A day after 16 states including California sued to block his national emergency declaration, President Donald Trump defended what he called his absolute right to do so.
“I think in the end we're going to be very successful with the lawsuit,” Trump said. “So it was filed. It was filed in the 9th Circuit. And I actually think we might do very well even in the 9th Circuit, because it's an open-and-close case.”
In an interview with CapRadio’s Ben Adler, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said talking in absolutes makes a leader sound “more like an emperor or a dictator than you are a president.”
“Presidents try to make sure that they're doing things for the good of the country, and they work with Congress to make sure they do that,” Becerra said. “And they also respect the Constitution and the separation of powers.”
Adler asked Becerra on Tuesday about the legal battle and a big debate at the state Capitol: the rules governing when police officers can use deadly force. Here are highlights from their conversation. Click play above to hear the full interview.
On how successful the state’s lawsuits against the Trump administration have been
If you recall it took Donald Trump three attempts at a Muslim travel ban to get it right. Twice, he got rejected, including by the Supreme Court. And so if all of us got three strikes to try to do it right, I think we'd be able to perfect things as well. As it was, he barely survived in the Supreme Court, even with his third attempt, after his first two were struck down.
And so the reality is we've had a great batting average against this president, because it's clear he overreaches, he exceeds his authority, and whether or not the case gets all the way to the Supreme Court is not the issue. Remember, if he had such a strong case he would take all those cases to the Supreme Court. Most of this he dropped after he lost at a lower court, because it became very clear he would not get a favorable ruling in the Supreme Court.
On why the state is suing Trump over the national emergency declaration
Well we filed suit because the president is violating the law. That he makes a further attempt to do it right, that's great. If he wants to do it right, we don't object to the president doing his job the right way. We object to the president doing his job in an illegal way.
On the state’s investigation into the shooting of Stephon Clark
We're approaching the conclusion of our investigation on this shooting, and it would be inappropriate for me to make comments about an investigation that is still pending and to speculate about where it goes and what the consequences in the future for policy might be. Best to ask this question once we get there.
On whether California needs a new law governing police use of force
California should make sure it's using the best practices when it comes to the use of force and we should be basing our laws and our practices on what has proven to be the best way to do policing in any community. And so we're always trying to improve, and we're always trying to make sure we're doing it the right way. Where that takes us, that will take the efforts of a lot of people within law enforcement, outside of law enforcement, to make sure we continue to head in the right direction.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire interview.