President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to take office soon.
That’s according to the new director of the agency, Scott Pruitt.
Pruitt, who has served as Oklahoma’s attorney general and was Trump’s attorney during the impeachment proceedings, will replace Gina McCarthy, who left office in February.
Pressed by The Washington Post on Tuesday about his confirmation and whether he’s qualified to head the EPA, Pruitt said that he is and that he’s not looking to change the agency’s policies or priorities.
He said that if confirmed, he would “follow all the legal requirements of the executive branch” to avoid conflicts of interest and that his nomination would be based on his experience and qualifications.
In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Pruitt said he would consider “anyone” with the ability to lead a transition team that could include “law enforcement, education, and so forth.”
He added that he would be “very careful to not have any conflicts of interests” while filling the job.
Asked whether he would use his position as attorney general to get his hands on classified information, Pruitt declined to say whether he has done so.
He added, however, that he “would certainly look into any investigation that may come up in the future.”
“I have no idea what’s going on.
I have no interest in doing that,” he said.
Pryor also said he had not been in contact with any of his top aides and that it would be up to him to decide whether to accept their advice or to follow his own advice.
Pushed on whether he believed the Russia investigation was a distraction, he said he does not think so.
“It’s an important issue, and I think it’s important that we move forward on it,” he added.
“It’s important to get this done and move forward, and there’s a lot of work to be done.”
The EPA is one of several agencies where Democrats and Republicans have sparred over whether Pruitt should be allowed to lead.
The Republican president, who was elected in 2016, has been critical of the work of the EPA and has sought to impose new rules on the agency that he says are a distraction from his administration’s agenda.
“We’re going to have to make sure we have an effective EPA that is working with the American people, working for the American workers, and working for them to be able to have clean air, clean water, safe food, safe air and safe cities,” Pruitt told The Post in an interview last month.
“I think we’ve got to have an EPA that can deliver on what the American public wants, and what the president’s in charge of is delivering on that.”
The White House and other Republican lawmakers have repeatedly suggested that Pruitt would be an obstructionist who would seek to impede the agency from enforcing its policies.
Pulitzer-winning filmmaker Michael Moore, who is backing Trump’s 2020 bid, told The Washington Times last month that he was “very skeptical” of Pruitt’s confirmation.
Polls show that Americans are split on the issue of Pruitt and the Senate.
A recent CNN/ORC poll found that 54 percent of Americans believe Pruitt would have to get a majority vote to become EPA administrator.
And a poll conducted by Morning Consult found that 71 percent of respondents support Pruitt’s nomination.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll from last week found that 65 percent of likely voters believe Pruitt will be confirmed.
A CBS News poll from January found that 75 percent of registered voters said they would support Pruitt if he is confirmed.
Purdue University’s Ryan Lucas, a former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton and former chief of staff to Sen. Joe Biden, said in an email that Pruitt is “the right person for the job.”
“He is not a Republican, he is a conservative, and his record of work on behalf of working families and the environment is clear,” Lucas wrote.
“He understands the importance of EPA to the American economy and the need for effective regulation.
He understands the role of the Department of Justice and of the courts in protecting American workers and the Constitution and the role that the Department can play in ensuring that federal agencies do not violate the constitutional rights of citizens and the American taxpayer.”
Pruiter’s nomination is expected before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Wednesday.
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