Trump EPA Pick Ordered to Release Thousands of Potentially Explosive Emails Hours Before Confirmation Vote
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s nominee to direct the EPA, has hit a snag one day ahead of his confirmation vote. A judge in his home state has ruled that his office must release thousands of emails to the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD,) a left-leaning watchdog organization that investigates corporate influence on governance and the media.
CMD has been seeking these emails for two years. The judge ruled today that Pruitt’s office had to release them by Tuesday under the state’s open records act. CMD believes that the documents could reveal important information about Pruitt’s connections to various conservative interest groups, particularly related to fossil fuels.
Senate Democrats have also been pushing for the release of the emails, arguing that the Senate should be able to review them before voting on Pruitt’s nomination. Some have accused Trump and the Republicans of trying to rush Pruitt’s appointment without proper vetting to appease fossil fuel special interests.
Related: Sen. Blumenthal: Halt Confirmations for Trump Appointments Until they pass background checks
The special interest angle is only part of the opposition to Pruitt. He has referred to climate change as a religious belief. He has sued the EPA 14 times over its authority to regulate things like carbon emissions. As Oklahoma’s AG, he disbanded his office’s environmental protection unit. These emails could prove that he would also contribute to the problem of widespread conflicts of interest in the Trump administration.
Today’s decision also marks a continuation of the judiciary’s importance in checking the Trump administration and Republican-dominated Senate. Federal judges have been integral in slowing down and preventing implementation of Trump’s immigration ban. In retaliation, Trump has attacked judges on Twitter and tried to delegitimize them to the public. Now this state judge, Aletia Haynes Timmons, is forcing his EPA pick to be more transparent, making it clear that the courts will continue to be a key point of conflict for the Trump administration.
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