Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt directly asked President Donald Trump this spring to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and appoint him to temporarily run the Justice Department, people familiar with the matter said.
According to them, Pruitt appealed to the President in a conversation the two had in the Oval Office during which the embattled EPA administrator offered to replace the attorney general for 210 days under the Vacancies Reform Act and then return to Oklahoma to run for office, CNN reported on Tuesday.
Although the proposal was immediately rejected by Trump’s advisers, it came at a time when the President’s frustration with Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation was at its peak. If he had been advised to replace the attorney general, Trump could have legally done so under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998.
Pruitt later denied the report, calling it “simply false.”
“General Sessions and I are friends and I have always said I want nothing more than to see him succeed in his role,” he said.
Both the White House and the EPA declined to comment.
However, speaking to reporters traveling with Trump aboard Air Force One to West Virginia, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Trump was looking into the many “troublesome reports” about Pruitt.
“The President feels, though, Scott Pruitt has done a really good job of deregulating the government to allow for a thriving economy. That’s important to him,” Gidley said.
Earlier in June, when President Trump was asked whether he was considering firing Pruitt who is under numerous federal investigations, he declined to answer but stressed that the EPA administrator was doing a “fantastic job.”
“I’m not happy about certain things, I’ll be honest,” Trump told reporters on the North Lawn of the White House. “I’m not happy about certain things. But he’s done a fantastic job running the EPA, which is very overriding. But I am not happy about it.”