Monday, May 13, 2024






        With former President Donald Trump not losing much voter support even as he’s stood trial for some of the many felony charges against him, some California officials report they’ve begun readying themselves for what seems sure to follow if the 45th President wins a new White House term in November: a second legal and rhetorical “war” on this state.


        It’s often glossed over when voters look back on Trump’s term as President, which covered the years 2017-21, but he unquestionably conducted such a campaign last time he had the chance.


        Trump never explicitly said so, but his main grievance against America’s most populous state was that Democrat Hillary Clinton defeated him here by almost 3 million votes in 2016, providing the margin by which Trump lost the national popular vote that year. If it happens again this fall – and all polls indicate that’s very possible – Trump’s grievance will only grow deeper.


        For if there’s one thing he wants more than almost anything else – except remaining rich and powerful – it’s to win the popular vote, which would supply a mandate for his agenda, just spelled out in a remarkable pair of springtime interviews with Time Magazine.


        Trump said he would not hesitate to use the military to round up and deport any immigrants here illegally, even if they are really legitimate. This would apparently violate the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act prohibiting use of the military against civilians, but Trump said undocumented immigrants are not civilians, and chances are judges he appointed will uphold whatever he does.


        Trump also threatened police departments that fail to cooperate in any such military operation: He said he would deprive them of all federal funding, even if those funds have been specifically appropriated by Congress in an act that he himself might have signed.


        In his earlier war on California, Trump tried just that tactic against police departments that carried out sanctuary city laws passed by city councils or county boards.


        This was just one type of action in Trump’s “war,” which was largely thwarted by Xavier Becerra, then the state’s attorney general and now the federal secretary of Health and Human Services.


        Becerra also fought for years to keep the 1970 federal Clean Air Act’s California waiver in effect despite Trump’s determined effort to cancel it. The waiver lets California impose stricter smog standards on cars and other polluters than federal ones. Trump also tried to cancel virtually all federal clean air and water rules, even when industries involved wanted to keep them going. His moves were quickly reversed when President Biden replaced him, but Trump has said he would immediately resume that effort if elected again.


        Then there’s abortion. Trump told Time he would not oppose Republican-run states tracking pregnant women and preventing them from seeking abortions. This would include the many now coming here from states like Idaho and Arizona, where abortion is severely restricted. Count on Gov. Gavin Newsom and current state Attorney General Rob Bonta to try preventing such abortion tracking from extending to California, and to work at reversing any attempts to restrict travel by pregnant women.


        Trump also promised to extend the wall that already reaches across parts of California’s border with Mexico. Only Congress could prevent this, but it never stopped such efforts when Trump was previously President.


        California’s growing legal marijuana industry could also expect some sort of reversal of Biden’s recent loosening federal rules on medicinal use of pot. It’s anybody’s guess whether Trump would send federal agents or the military to shut down the many marijuana shops now operating in California.


        Plus, Trump was consistently slow to grant disaster designations for areas ruined by wildfires, depriving homeowners and others for months of federal benefits that have come quickly under Biden. Trump blamed California for those fires, claiming the state failed to clean up forest floors that burned. He never acknowledged that most such areas are on federally-owned land not under state control.


        No one knows all the areas a resumed Trump war on California might affect, but it’s a safe bet these would be some. For Trump has not changed much since being voted out in 2020.




 Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit


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