In a blistering response to the Department of Justice challenging his state’s immigration laws, California Governor Jerry Brown has dismissed the lawsuit as an act of political theatre from an administration in disarray.
The Trump administration has challenged a set of California laws that limit cooperation with federal law enforcement, which Attorney General Jeff Sessions called a “rejection of law” that “creates an open border system”.
In response, Mr Brown said the lawsuit embodied “the mendacity of Washington” and suggested that the administration was discredited by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference and potential coordination with the Trump campaign, which has already produced guilty pleas from multiple former campaign aides.
“We know the Trump administration is full of liars. They’ve pled guilty already to the special counsel”, Mr Brown told reporters.
“The Trump White House is under siege. Mueller is closing in. There are more indictments coming”, he added.
Former Trump campaign advisers George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn - who also served briefly as Mr Trump’s National Security Adviser - have admitted to lying about contacts with Russian emissaries. Former campaign chair Paul Manafort has pleaded not guilty to allegations of concealing money from the federal government, while his former associate Rick Gates has pleaded guilty to fraud. Mr Mueller has not publicly said more indictments are forthcoming.
The Governor suggested that the lawsuit represented an effort at political preservation by Mr Sessions in the face of public criticism from Mr Trump, saying Mr Sessions has “been caught up in the whirlwind of Trumpism”.
“I assume Jeff thinks Donald will be happier with him, and I’m sure Donald will be tweeting his joy at this particular performance”, Mr Brown said, calling the remark “speculation”.
Mr Brown objected to the notion that California has embraced lawlessness or protects dangerous criminals. The so-called “sanctuary state” law targeted by the federal government allows local law enforcement to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the cases of people convicted of violent crimes.
Both Mr Brown and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra predicted the state would prevail in what could be a protracted legal fight.
“This lawsuit”, Mr Brown said, “is going to last a lot longer than the Trump administration”.