Former Attorney General Eric Holder spoke in Los Angeles on Monday to promote a bill that some observers say would make California a "sanctuary state," an appearance that he says is the start of a new phase of his career in which he plans to reenter the world of politics.
"Up to now, I have been more behind-the-scenes," Holder told Yahoo News in a new interview published Tuesday, describing his plans. "But that's about to change."
Holder, who served as former President Barack Obama's first attorney general, indicated that his goal is to head the legal resistance to President Donald Trump's agenda. But that may just be the tip of the iceberg.
Three sources who have spoken to Holder and are familiar with his thinking told Yahoo that he may consider challenging Trump in 2020 for the White House.
"Now is the time to be more visible," Holder said. "Now is the time to be heard."
"I have a certain status as the former attorney general. A certain familiarity as the first African-American attorney general. There's a justified perception that I'm close to President Obama," Holder added. "So I want to use whatever skills I have, whatever notoriety I have, to be effective in opposing things that are, at the end of the day, just bad for the country."
Holder was getting paid $25,000 per month to serve as outside counsel to the heavily-Democratic California state legislature to counter the Trump administration. The legislation he supported Monday would prevent state police from helping to enforce immigration law, and Holder traveled across the country to promote it.
He told Yahoo that his trip was meant to "to dramatize the issue, to raise the consciousness of people, to help the legislation along."
Holder works at the Washington, D.C. law firm Covington & Burling, but he came to the press conference in California as part of what Yahoo called a "coming-out party" as a resistance leader. Holder intends to lead the legal opposition to the Trump administration and to unify it behind a progressive agenda.
Holder said that he did not expect to stay in the spotlight, but the surprise of Hillary Clinton's election defeat in November motivated him.
"I thought, frankly, along with everybody else, that after the election, with Hillary Clinton as president, I could walk off the field," he said.
Holder said that he took Trump's election as a chance to reevaluate his position, and he then decided to "get back on the field." He is also working with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which is seeking to prepare Democrats for the 2020 redistricting process.
"Now we're moving into an operational phase where we'll be filing lawsuits and I'll be more visible talking about those issues," he said of the committee.
Holder is also preparing to start "a national, privately funded, PAC-like organization that would develop and coordinate legal resistance strategies among various states and localities that are determined to stymie Trump," according to Yahoo.
Holder said that he wants to help Democrats in state governments by using his experience helping California resist Trump's agenda.
"California is in so many ways a trendsetter, whether it is in pop culture or in politics," Holder said. "That's why it was such an attractive possibility for me to go to California and work with the legislators there in crafting their response to the Trump administration—because I think what California does gives courage to other states and other public officials in other parts of the country who might be thinking about principled opposition."
"California is leading," he added. "California is doing the right thing. This is something that needs to be done nationwide."