politics

EPA Chief Interested If Attorney General Job Opens Up, Source Says

Updated on
  • Scott Pruitt is said to have told associates he’s interested
  • Fresh speculation about whether Sessions is endangered at DOJ

New Questions Arise About Sessions' Recusal

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has told associates he’d be willing to lead the Justice Department should the position become available, according to two people familiar with the matter. 

The former Oklahoma attorney general has discussed the matter in recent days amid renewed speculation about the tenure of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, said the people, who asked not to be identified describing internal conversations.  

Bloomberg News and other media reported on Thursday that President Donald Trump ordered his White House counsel, Don McGahn, in early 2017 to lobby Sessions not to recuse himself from the DOJ’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Sessions recused himself anyway, a move that infuriated Trump.

The president’s anger over the matter tends to resurface periodically after news reports on the Russia investigation and Sessions’s role in the probe, two White House officials said. But one of those officials, plus a third official, said that there are no serious discussions to replace Sessions at the moment.

Sessions’s spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores declined to comment. And the EPA rejected the idea as false, asserting in a statement that Pruitt is solely focused on implementing Trump’s agenda to protect the environment.

Pruitt, who’s been discussed as a possible candidate for an Oklahoma seat in the U.S. Senate, stressed during an October interview with Bloomberg News that his focus is on leading the EPA, while signaling he would serve in other roles if it would help drive Trump’s agenda.

“I am here because I really feel called to it,” Pruitt said at the time. “You do what’s before you, you do the best work you can, you bless the president -- I really serve to bless him and his process and help him form decisions and lead with direction here -- and then you see what opportunities present themselves in the future on how to better the agenda overall.”

(Updates with EPA comment in fifth paragraph.)
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