President Trump’s EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is in hot water after the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general announced earlier this week that the agency will investigate Pruitt’s April meeting with a coal mining industry group. Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a letter from Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr. stating the office “will review the single meeting between EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and the National Mining Association in April 10.”
BREAKING: EPA’s IG agrees to Pallone’s request to review #PollutingPruitt and staff’s meeting with industry. Review would then allow GAO to examine potential violations of appropriations laws. pic.twitter.com/IyNhvxDG6Y
— Energy Commerce Dems (@EnergyCommerce) December 6, 2017
The Hill reports that Pruitt met with the mining group in April and reportedly urged association members to tell President Trump to pull the United States out of the Paris climate deal. Those who opposed the meeting, including Democrats and liberal groups, say a request like that from a Cabinet member violates anti-lobbying laws for government officials. Therefore, they are planning to investigate accordingly. Sources claim they want the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to provide a legal opinion on that question, and they asked the inspector general to first “develop a comprehensive factual record” for use in such an analysis.
In a letter to Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), Elkins said: “The GAO stated to us that it could and would use the factual record regarding that meeting to conduct its analysis.” The EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Trump in June announced plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, which is signed by every other nation on Earth.
Meanwhile, special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation is certainly starting to pick up steam as Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI earlier this week.