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California attorney general: Trump administration 'in denial' about its executive powers

california attorney general xavier becerra
california attorney general xavier becerra

(California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.Screenshot via CNN)

California's top prosecutor had some terse words for the Trump administration hours after a federal judge temporarily blocked the administration's attempt to financially penalize so-called sanctuary cities.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra responded to a statement from the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, that characterized US District Judge William Orrick's ruling as "the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals going bananas" for slapping down another one of President Donald Trump's executive orders.

Orrick does not sit on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but any challenges to his rulings would be heard in that court, NPR reported.

The same court in February refused to reinstate Trump's travel ban that barred people from several majority-Muslim countries from traveling to the US. Trump and his surrogates at the time railed against that ruling as well.

It's "another case of the administration in denial," Becerra said on CNN Tuesday night, referring to Priebus' response to the judge's ruling. "You just have to read the Constitution. It's very simple."

"The Trump administration can say all it wants, but we're beginning to see all those words of Donald Trump the candidate unravel as he tries to exercise his power as Donald Trump the president," Becerra said.

immigration sanctuary cities
immigration sanctuary cities

(Protesters outside a courthouse April 14 in San Francisco.AP Photo/Haven Daley)

Orrick's decision Tuesday established a preliminary injunction blocking Trump's January 25 executive order that threatened to hold back federal funds from jurisdictions that defy federal immigration law.

The Trump administration and two California governments that sued over the order disagreed about its scope during a recent court hearing. San Francisco and Santa Clara County argued that it threatened billions of dollars in federal funding for each of them, making it difficult to plan their budgets, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

The executive order was part of the Trump administration's strategy to crack down on illegal immigration. Trump made big promises in that area during his campaign — including a pledge to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.

But aside from increased powers given to Immigrations Customs and Enforcement officers who have been deporting people at a record pace, Trump's other immigration moves have largely stalled.

NOW WATCH: 'They make our nation less safe': Sessions threatens to terminate federal grants for sanctuary cities

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