Just when you thought EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt couldn’t get any worse, we get news like what’s being reported today at multiple outlets. At the height of Donald Trump’s frustration with Attorney General Jeff Sessions over his failure to end the ongoing Russia investigation, Pruitt apparently offered himself up — in fact, requested — to serve as Trump’s “acting” Attorney General, to be appointed under what’s known as the Vacancies Reform Act of 1998.
That governmental provision allows a President to temporarily fill a “vacancy” in an office under a specific set of guidelines, namely that the current officeholder:
“…dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office.”
If Sessions knew about this, he hasn’t let on, but it would surely be more than a thorn in his side to find out — the guidelines required for Trump to have given his spot to Pruitt would have meant Sessions died (unlikely), was forced to resign (something he has resisted successfully since the day he recused himself from the Russia investigation), or was determined to be unable to “perform the functions and duties of the office,” which is a statement something akin to the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, the provision by which a president might be determined unfit for the office due to some irreparable impairment or flaw in character or execution of the job.
In other words, in order for Pruit to become AG, Trump would have to force Sessions to retire or determine he was unfit — a designation that would surely end the Alabama politician’s career for good.
The takeaway from this, however, isn’t so much about Sessions as it is about Pruitt. The opportunistic nature of offering oneself up for a job currently being held by another person precisely when you know the boss is mad at them pretty much makes you the worst kind of rat there is.
Of course, we already knew that about Pruitt — in fact, he was just chased out of a restaurant by a concerned citizen the other night who urged him to resign because he was such a terrible person.
Clearly Trump listened to Pruitt at least to some extent, in that he himself spoke of replacing Sessions with the EPA Director just in the last few months. However, Trump’s advisers obviously cautioned him against getting rid of Sessions if only to maintain the appearance of not blatantly obstructing justice at every turn.
As for Pruitt’s job history and/or prospects, it’s not like it would have been completely out of character for him to serve as the head of the Justice Department. He was, after all, the Attorney General in his home state of Oklahoma before joining the Trump administration. Of course, his only claim to fame while in that role was to have sued a certain government agency because he hated regulations that accounted for man-made climate change, which he doesn’t believe in.
The one he heads now.
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