The job isn’t even available… yet. Scott Pruitt, Trump’s anti-environmental regulation head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has told his friends that he’s interested in the Attorney General position in the administration, according to a new report on Politico today.
That the position is currently occupied by beleaguered anti-marijuana crusader Jeff Sessions seems not to matter to Pruitt, who presumably has more understanding of the President’s plans for Session’s future in the role than the average Joe.
The current Attorney General is under fire not just for breaking his promise to prominent Senators over marijuana prosecutions in states where the drug has been legalized, but for his failure to protect the President from the slings and arrows of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into his campaign’s collusion with Russia during the election and the subsequent charges of obstruction of justice with members of the House’s Freedom Caucus calling for his immediate resignation over the issue just two days ago.
Politico characterizes Pruitt as “quietly positioning himself as a possible candidate for the job,” and quotes an unnamed person close to the EPA head as saying:
“Pruitt is very interested. He has expressed that on a number of occasions.”
Whether the President would consider Pruitt for the job is not yet known, but Trump is reportedly impressed with Pruitt’s progress in destroying as many of the environmental regulations instituted during the Obama administration as humanly possible in just one year and is described as having grown to like Pruitt.
Jahan Wilcox, a spokesperson for the EPA, denied the rumors in a statement:
“No, this is not true. From creating regulatory certainty to cleaning up toxic superfund sites, Administrator Pruitt is solely focused on implementing President Trump’s agenda to protect the environment.”
Note to government agency spokespeople: when trying to debunk a rumor, using doublespeak like “creating regulatory certainty” when everyone knows you mean “stripping environmental protections from a vulnerable public in order to benefit energy industry oligarchs” does not help your credibility.
While Pruitt’s ambitious ladder climbing desires may or may not be true, the question remains as to whether Trump will risk firing Sessions over his self-recusal from the Russia investigation that has reportedly left Trump still fuming nearly a year after it occurred. Firing Sessions would allow Trump to appoint someone of his own choosing to take over the supervision of Mueller’s probe, but it would surely lead to a blistering confirmation battle over his nominee in a Senate that Republicans control by just one vote and where Sessions still has quite a few friends amongst his former colleagues.
Stay tuned for more developments in the weeks ahead.