Updated 1:26 p.m.
California plans to sue the Trump administration over the president’s emergency declaration to build a border wall.
At a press conference on Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom joined state Attorney General Xavier Becerra to decry Trump’s plan, which he announced earlier in the morning, and hint that a multi-state lawsuit against the administration was imminent.
“Donald Trump, we’ll see you in court,” Newsom said.
“President Trump got one thing right this morning about his declaration when he said ‘I didn’t have to do this.’ He’s right. He didn’t have to do this. In fact, he can’t do this,” said Becerra, who then claimed that the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the powers to control how federal dollars are spent, not the president.
Trump's emergency declaration came after Congress passed a spending bill that included only $1.375 billion for border security, short of the $5.7 billion the president requested.
During Trump’s announcement Friday, he said the declaration was needed "because of an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs."
Becerra has previously threatened litigation if Trump declared an emergency. “The idea of declaring a nonexistent state of emergency on the border … to pay for the wall is not only immoral, it is illegal,” he said last week, after delivering the Spanish-language Democratic response to Trump’s State of the Union address.
During Friday morning’s press conference, Becerra said he believes the president knows that there is no national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border. “He knows he will lose in court, and he is hoping to use the U.S. Supreme court as a tool in his game to fulfill a campaign promise,” Becerra said, referencing his promise to build a border wall.
“The consequences of that are harm: Harm to Californians, harm to all Americans,” Becerra added.
Newsom said that California wants to work with the Trump administration to address the “legitimate crisis with drugs” in this country.
“I don’t want to be a sparring partner with President Trump. We want to be a working partner," Newsom said. “But he makes it all but impossible when he plays these games, and manufactures a crisis, and creates the conditions where we have no other choice but to sue the administration.”
Also on Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California released a statement with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling the declaration "unlawful."
"The President's actions clearly violate the Congress's exclusive power of the purse, which our Founders enshrined in the Constitution," the statement reads. "The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities in the Congress, in the Courts, and in the public, using every remedy available."
It’s unclear how a challenge to Trump’s declaration would play out in the courts. Brian Landsburg, a professor emeritus at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, said that courts are often reluctant to second-guess presidential power.
“I think courts are going to be concerned about what kind of a precedent this would set,” he said, adding that, if the courts were to approve Trump’s declaration, judges may be worried it would encourage other “far-fetched” uses of emergency powers.
“This is so unusual,” Landsburg said, then laughed. “I’m not aware of other declarations of emergency being challenged in court.”
This story will be updated.
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