Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt departs after a meeting with U.S. President elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower New York, N.Y., on Nov. 28, 2016.
Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Trump nominees at odds with the agencies they’ll soon lead

In March 2005, then-President George W. Bush, feeling emboldened after winning re-election, made a provocative move: he nominated John Bolton to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. This enraged congressional Democrats – along with many diplomats from allied countries – not just because of Bolton’s far-right ideology, but because of his overt hostility towards the institution where he’d soon work.

Bolton, after all, was on record saying that “if the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference” and that “there’s no such thing as the United Nations.” For Bolton’s critics, the principle seemed fairly obvious: if someone opposes the core mission of an institution, and is skeptical about the institution’s existence, they probably shouldn’t work there.

More than a decade later, we’re seeing the same dynamic play out on a much broader scale. For example, Donald Trump announced his choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday, and the president-elect chose Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R), who is effectively a caricature of a ridiculous EPA nominee.

But aside from his hand-in-glove relationship with the oil industry, note Pruitt’s Bolton-esque problem when it comes to the EPA. As Rachel noted on the show last night:
“If you were not really sure about what he thinks about the EPA, which the Trump administration is going to put him in charge of, this is a line out of his official state bio. [Pruitt] brags, ‘Scott Pruitt is a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.’

“A leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda. He will now be in charge of the EPA’s activist agenda. You kind of have to admire the gumption on this one.”
So the good news is, Trump’s nominee is neither a billionaire nor an amateur with no background in public service. The bad news is, Pruitt fundamentally rejects the work of the department he’ll soon lead.

And while that’s as disheartening as it is bizarre, this keeps happening.

Jeff Sessions was nominated for Attorney General despite his record of hostility towards civil rights.

Betsy DeVos was nominated for Education Secretary despite her opposition towards public schools.

Ben Carson was nominated for Housing and Urban Development Secretary despite his hostility towards the Fair Housing Act.

Tom Price was nominated for Health and Human Services Secretary despite his opposition to programs that provide health security to millions of Americans.

If the rumors are true – and I’ll have more on this later today – Trump is also poised to nominate a Labor Secretary who makes little effort to hide his contempt for labor laws.

The pattern is hard to miss, isn’t it?



Cabinet and Donald Trump

Trump nominees at odds with the agencies they'll soon lead