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Over the past few months, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has thrust himself the national spotlight for his role in blocking President Trump’s travel ban for residents of several Muslim-majority nations.

That’s not the only clash he’s had with Trump. Ferguson, a Democrat, has also sued over the administration’s effort to restart federal coal-mining leases on public lands, and he’s threatening a lawsuit over plans to possibly overturn the designations of National Monuments, including Hanford Reach.

In this week’s episode of The Overcast, the Seattle Times weekly politics podcast, Ferguson talks with Seattle Times reporters Jim Brunner and Daniel Beekman about how much of his job he views as dedicated to fighting the Trump administration. Hint: he has a weekly staff meeting devoted to the Trump administration.

On the travel ban, more drama could lie ahead. Ferguson notes Washington’s case is the furthest along in federal court (even though a challenge by Hawaii has halted the latest version of the ban). That sets up the potential for Ferguson’s lawyers to depose  White House aides over the motivation behind the ban: was it a pure national-security measure or an unconstitutional targeting of Muslims?

While it might be difficult to force Trump himself into sitting for a deposition, Ferguson says he expects to be able to depose people like Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City Mayor and Trump advisor, who said he was asked by the president to find a legal way to impose the Muslim ban Trump had promised during his campaign.

“That will be central to our case,” Ferguson says. “We have to show that a motivating factor behind the travel ban was an animus towards Muslims.”

There’s much more in the podcast interview,  including Ferguson’s take on a possible federal crackdown on Washington’s legal marijuana law, his aggressive uptick in consumer-protection and campaign-finance cases — and whether his higher profile means he’s running for governor in 2020.

Ferguson also talks about his past as an internationally ranked chess player – and makes his case for how a chess analogy about the so-called “King’s Gambit” explains the fatal flaw in Trump’s aggressive approach as president.

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Find and listen to past episodes of The Overcast here, and check out other Seattle Times podcasts here.

Send us your feedback and your nominations for next week’s winner and loser in local politics. Leave a comment on this post, tweet at us (@Jim_Brunner and @DBeekman), email us ( or drop us a voicemail at 206-464-8778.