OTR Interviews

Oklahoma outlines its case against Pres. Obama's 'brazenly political' executive action on immigration

Oklahoma attorney general makes his case to sue the president over his executive action on immigration reform


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 21, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, it isn't just the Republicans on Capitol Hill upset with President Obama, but it is the states, too. At least one attorney general is preparing the pleadings to sue the president for taking executive action.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt joins us. Good evening, sir

SCOTT PRUITT, OKLAHOMA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Good evening, Greta. How are you?

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm very well. As I understand it, you fall in the category that you're upset with the president. Even your governor, Mary Fallon, also a Republican, upset as well with the executive action. So you are going to be filing suit?

PRUITT: Well, Greta, this executive action today is a couple of things. One, brazenly political. If the president believes that he has this authority, and it is so compelling, why did he wait months and years to act? And the president knows, and he campaigned on it in 2008, that this executive authority to act as he has is simply not there. But it is also unlawful.


VAN SUSTEREN: And let me stop you there. There is a Senate bill that was bipartisan and languishing, that never made it to the House and never voted one it in the House, so for the last year, I suppose he would say, if he were here, that he has been waiting for the House toe act. What he can't explain is that, up to 2010, when he did the immigration speech at American University, and said he would do something with the House, he had the House and the Senate, and he did nothing, and so that is the history.

PRUITT: Well, Greta, let's unpack it for a second. The legislative prerogative is to act or not act. And the president can't fill in the void just because the Congress doesn't act the way that the president wants it, or wants them to. So this issue of the "pass the bill or else" is not simply how the process works. So we have a concern at the state level. This impacts the states in a very important way. This triggers the state benefits. Now these individuals are considered lawful in the states. That will trigger state welfare and Medicare benefits. So it is a direct harm to the states, and it's something we have to respond to.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you going to be filing suit? I was told that you are preparing the pleadings to file suit.

PRUITT: Yes, we have been filing on the complaint, and we have been since the president announced this yesterday. In fact, we are have been looking at this since August because you know the president contemplated filing this in August, and waited for after the election to do so. So we are preparing to file a complaint as we speak.

VAN SUSTEREN: Sometimes attorneys general get together, and we saw this in Obamacare. Do you intend to contact like-minded attorneys general in other states to see whether or not they will joint in a suit, or will this be Oklahoma going it alone?

PRUITT: Well, you have heard from Texas that they are concerned as well. Other state attorneys general that I've already spoken to are concerned. The policy of immigration and naturalization is something that needs to be addressed. We need to embrace some sort of change at the federal level to get something done, because it is broken. But the process matters, Greta. And the executive branch can't act like the legislative branch. The checks and balances matters. And the states have been injured. And many states, I think, will respond with litigation.

VAN SUSTEREN: As of tonight, though, all -- you have Texas interested in doing it, and Greg Abbott, the government-elect, is interested in doing it, but -- it is not like the all of the attorneys generals are on the phone and talking and saying, let's go at it together. You haven't had that, right?

PRUITT: Well, we've had many discussions, but as far as coalition building and identifying the states, that has not happened, but it will take place in the future.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is the remedy? You file suit and you ask for what?

PRUITT: An injunction, to enjoin the president's application of the executive order. He says that he has prosecutorial discretion. As attorney general, I use prosecutorial discretion every day. This is not prosecutorial discretion. When you exempt an entire category of individuals from deportation, this is not what it consists of. He also says that he has the discretion because previous presidents have acted in similar ways, and that is not the case. Every time a president, including President Bush in the 1990s, when they exempted others from deportation, Congress gave the authority. That is not what has happened here. He has done this out of whole cloth to exempt an entire category, and it is inconsistent with the Constitution.

VAN SUSTEREN: And one last question. You will seek an injunction, and that is fast relief, and faster than that is a preliminary injunction, and fast than that is a temporary restraining order. Obviously, there are different considerations. Do you plan to ask for the temporary injunction or temporary restraining order or are you going to go all the way -- start with the injunction, which is a slower process?

PRUITT: We will look at all of the options as we file the complaint. As you indicated, TRO is an option. We will evaluate that as we file, and seek it if it is there.

VAN SUSTEREN: I should explain a TRO does not have the other side there. It just pushes it off for a couple of days. So probably unlikely you would get that, because they will want to have the United States to file in short order.

Anyway, Attorney General, thank you. And I hope you will come back so we can follow this lawsuit.

Thank you, sir.

PRUITT: Thanks, Greta.