Pruitt interested in AG job — reports

Source: Kevin Bogardus, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, January 8, 2018

Does U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt have his eye on a promotion in the Trump administration?

Politico reported on Friday that three people familiar with internal discussions said Pruitt had told associates he was interested in becoming attorney general. Bloomberg News soon followed with a report that the EPA chief would be willing to lead the Justice Department if the position became open.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox denied that Pruitt was interested in the job, saying, “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,” Wilcox said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has long been subject to speculation that he will resign. The former Republican Alabama senator angered President Trump after Sessions recused himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Pruitt would likely face strident Democratic opposition if he were nominated for attorney general.

Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia were the only Democrats to vote for the former Oklahoma attorney general to lead EPA, while Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was the lone Republican to vote against Pruitt’s confirmation (Greenwire, Feb. 17, 2017).

Democrats also now have one more vote in the Senate, with Doug Jones winning Sessions’ old seat in an Alabama special election last month, which could make Pruitt’s path toward confirmation as attorney general even tighter.

Pruitt is considered to have political ambitions beyond EPA, which may mean running for senator or governor back home in Oklahoma. He is also a vocal supporter of Trump, who prizes loyalty, and backed the president in his plan to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate change accord.

The EPA administrator is a frequent White House visitor, and he again will be in Trump’s orbit this weekend.

Pruitt was listed as one of several Cabinet officials attending talks at Camp David with Republican congressional leadership and the president to lay out this year’s legislative agenda. Sessions was not listed as an attendee.