‘Political Retribution’: California Claims Trump Admin Is Retaliating Over Opposition to Border Wall

The State of California’s high-speed rail agency filed a lawsuit Tuesday in the Northern District of California to block the Trump Administration from revoking nearly $1 billion in funding for the state’s bullet train venture.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced last week that it would be cancelling California’s funding after the state had “repeatedly failed to comply” with deadlines and “failed to make reasonable progress” on the project. California was awarded $929 million in 2010. The FRA may seek to reclaim the $2.5 billion already given to the state.

The funding cancellation comes on the heels of Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s February announcement that the state would be scaling back the planned $77.3 billion project following cost spikes, delays, and concerns over management.

In its lawsuit, the state vehemently contends that the administration’s decision was actually motivated by President Donald Trump’s desire to punish California for its opposition to his proposed border wall. According to the state’s lawsuit, “The decision was precipitated by President Trump’s overt hostility to California, its challenge to his border wall initiatives, and what he called the ‘green disaster’ high-speed rail project.”

Trump has been very open about his opposition to the project, most visibly in a speech last week during which he said that if his administration were involved in the project they would have built an even faster train, adding that “[W]e also would have had it built on time…and we also would have had it built on budget.”

In a statement Tuesday, Newsom denounced the Trump Administration, telling reporters that “[the Trump Administration] is after us in every way, shape, and form,” before expressing his confidence that “principles and values tend to win out over short-term tweets [in the end].”

“Just as we have seen from the Trump Administration’s attacks on our clean air standards, our immigrant communities and in countless other areas, the Trump Administration is trying to exact political retribution on our state,” Newsom has also said.

The state further argued that there was no reasonable basis for the FRA to cancel its funding, contended that the decision was a “violation of its own procedures and policies was arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to law, and threatens to wreak significant economic damage on the Central Valley and the state.”

The lawsuit asks the court to block the administration from awarding the money to any other project.

[SAUL LOEB_AFP_Getty Images]

Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.

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