Holder: House Lawsuit ‘More Political Than Legal’

Attorney General Eric Holder, calling the House’s plans for suing the president over the use of his executive authority “more political than legal,” questions if a court will even permit a suit to proceed.

“I thought that I was witnessing something that (is) more political than legal,” Holder says in an interview with Gwen Ifill airing on PBS NewsHour tonight.  “There’s not much to that lawsuit. This is something that I’d be surprised if the court finds that there is standing. I certainly don’t expect that at the end of the day the claimants are going to win that case.

“And I think it’s really kind of unfortunate,” Holder says. “The president has indicated a willingness to work with Congress, but he’s also indicated that where Congress will not act – and they have not acted at historic levels – that he has to do the work of the American people. And so he’s done things that are necessary, that are legal, and that the American people want to see done.”

While the House’s Republicans criticize the president for taking actions on his own, Holder notes, there are certain things the president can do about the influx of children from Central America at the southern border — but the money the White House is seeking from Congress also is critical. The House today failed to move forward on a bill offering $659 million, a fraction of the $3.7 billion the president is seeking. House leaders are delaying their summer recess for another attempt.

“I want to surge immigration judges to the border. I want to have more immigration judges at the border to process these kinds of cases. So that requires money,” Holder says in the PBS interview. “We estimated it would take about $3.7 billion. Senate seemed to be moving at around the $3 billion mark. As we speak the House is having a problem coming up with $600 million. You know, these things cost money. And at some point, we have to make decisions about what’s in our national interest. The president, I think rightly, has made that determination, that dealing with the situation on the border is of national consequence, and therefore it should involve a national response, and that involves spending money.”

“…If if we don’t get the congressional support that I think is absolutely needed, we’ll do the best that we can,” he said. “We will scramble and we will get immigration judges there in some form or fashion. We’ll probably have to use technology, television, to have judges in remote locations. We’ll certainly make sure that border security is assured. And we’ll make sure also that whoever is crossing the border is treated in a fair and humanitarian way. We’ll do that with the resources that we have, but the reality is that we can certainly do a much better job and do the job the American people expect if we have the resources that we have requested.”

Holder also addressed the inquiry the Justice Department is making into the protocol for capital punishment following state executions marred by the delivery of lethal injections. The federal government hasn’t carried out an execution since 2003, he noted — “there’s essentially been a moratorium.”

“we are in the process, pursuant to the directions of the president, of looking at the protocol that we would use – the cocktail, the drugs that would be used if there were a federal execution,” he said.

“But I’m greatly troubled by what happened in Oklahoma and in Arizona. And there might not be a legal requirement for transparency and talking about, describing the drugs that are used, but we sometimes have to go beyond that which is legally required to do something that is right. And for the state to exercise that greatest of all powers, to end a human life, it seems to me just on a personal level that transparency would be a good thing and to share the information about what chemicals are being used, what drugs are being used, and it would seem to me that would be a better way to do this.”

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