Is Trump Plotting to Purge the Federal Government of Anyone Who Accepts Climate Change? Maybe!
On Thursday, President-elect Donald Trump formally nominated Scott Pruitt to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a rather terrifying turn of events for anyone who accepts the scientific consensus on man-made climate change. Pruitt doesn’t just deny that science—he also has real-world legal experience trying to turn that denial into actual governmental policy.
Things on the climate front, however, may be even worse than they seem. Via the Washington Post:
The Trump transition team has issued a list of 74 questions for the Energy Department, asking officials there to identify which department employees and contractors have worked on forging an international climate pact as well as domestic efforts to cut the nation’s carbon output.
The questionnaire requests a list of those individuals who have taken part in international climate talks over the past five years and “which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.”
While we obviously can’t know for sure why the Trump team is making that request, it raises the specter that they aren’t just looking to purge the federal government of political appointees who accept the realities of climate change, but also to do the same with the career civil servants who keep the departments running. “With some of these questions, it feels more like an inquisition than a question, in terms of going after career employees who have been here through Bush years to Clinton, and up to now,” one understandably concerned DOE employee told the Post. “All of a sudden you have questions that feel more like a congressional investigation than an actual probing of how the Department of Energy does its job.”
The questionnaire also hints at yet another way that the Trump administration may try to aid its friends in the fossil fuel industry. The transition team specifically requested details about how the Obama administration crafted its “social cost of carbon” metrics, which is what helps federal agencies weigh the costs to society of emitting CO2 into the atmosphere. If the Trump administration were to change how that cost is calculated—or simply refuse to calculate it at all—it would swing the cost-benefit analysis performed by federal regulators in favor of short-term economic gains at the expense of long-term environmental harm.
Labor Secretary Pick Is Fourth Top Trump Figure Who’s Been Accused of Assaulting Women
Shortly after Thursday's announcement that Donald Trump would nominate Carl's Jr./Hardee's CEO Andy Puzder to lead the Labor Department, St. Louis' Riverfront Times noted that Puzder's now-ex-wife Lisa Henning had accused him, in a 1980s divorce filing, of physically abusing her on two occasions. Puzder, Lisa Henning alleged, punched her when they were in a car together in 1985 and struck and choked her in their home in 1986.
Puzder denied the accusations of abuse in a 1989 Riverfront Times article, and Henning—now known as Lisa Fierstein—has disavowed them publicly in a new statement:
"Andy is one of the finest men I have ever known. Many years ago I impulsively filed for divorce and was counseled to file allegations that I regretted and subsequently withdrew over thirty years ago. Andy is a wonderful father, a great person, and was a good husband."
Fierstein also avowed in a Nov. 30 email to Puzder that he provided to the Riverfront Times that he was "not abusive."
The public record, however, does not seem to entirely square with Fierstein's statement that her allegations against Puzder were contrived and filed strategically at the advice of others. The Riverfront Times wrote in 1989—and Puzder confirmed—that police responded to the couple's home during the 1986 incident and that, during the incident, Puzder's wife fell to the ground after some sort of physical contact:
Henning (formerly Lisa Puzder) alleged that Puzder hit her and threw her to the kitchen floor and unplugged the phone after she tried to call police for help during an altercation in 1986 in their Clayton home. Puzder, in a deposition, denied using physical violence and said that his wife was yelling and coming at him, so he "grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her back" to prevent her from hurting herself. Puzder said that his wife ended up on the floor. "I don't know if her foot caught or what happened, but she went down on her back and stayed down on the ground." Puzder acknowledges that police responded to that altercation.
After that incident, Henning sought a protective order against Puzder in May 1986, alleging that he "attacked me, choked me, threw me to the floor, hit me in the head pushed his knee into my chest twisted my arm and dragged me on the floor, threw me against a wall, tried to stop my call to 911 and kicked me in the back." Puzder told The Riverfront Times: "There was no physical abuse at any point in time."
This incident did take place, however, in the same year—1986—that divorce proceedings appear to have begun.
Puzder, who at the time of the alleged incidents was a prominent Missouri pro-life activist, is not the only member of Trump's inner circle to have been accused of assaulting one or more women. Adviser and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was charged, though not ultimately prosecuted, for grabbing and pulling reporter Michelle Fields' arm after a March press conference. (Lewandowski initially denied that he'd even touched Fields, but the incident turned out to have been recorded on video.) Lewandowski also reportedly called one female co-worker at a previous job a "cunt" and another a "fucking bitch." Top White House adviser Steve Bannon, meanwhile, was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence against his now-ex-wife in 1996 after police responded to an incident in which she alleged that he grabbed her roughly and tried to pull her into a car. An officer wrote at the time that he had observed "red marks on [Bannon's wife's] left wrist and the right side of her neck." The charge was later dropped when the woman declined to testify in court.
And, of course, Donald Trump himself has been accused of sexually assaulting at least 14 women.
Geert Wilders—Far-Right Leader, Islamophobe, and Trump Fan—Convicted of Inciting Discrimination
Geert Wilders, the head of the Netherlands’ far-right, anti-immigration Party for Freedom and a legitimate contender for prime minister, has been convicted of inciting discrimination for remarks he made at a campaign rally in 2014, when he said the country would be safer with fewer Moroccans. From the New York Times:
Mr. Wilders was found not guilty of hate-speech charges in connection with comments he made about Moroccans in a nationally broadcast TV program filmed at a public market a week earlier, but he was found to have violated laws on inciting discrimination when he led a crowd at a political rally in chanting “fewer, fewer” to the question, “Do you want more or fewer Moroccans in this city and the Netherlands?”
The three-member judiciary panel elected not to penalize Wilders, one of Europe’s most prominent Islamophobes and immigration hard-liners. “Islam is not a religion, it's an ideology, the ideology of a retarded culture,” he characteristically told the Guardian in 2008. Wilders has also promised to work toward shuttering all mosques in the country and banning the Quran outright. Support for his Party for Freedom has been on the rise amid Europe’s increasingly nativist political climate. A June poll found that the party would have become the largest in the Dutch Parliament if elections had been held then. Though he is not currently favored to win, if this support holds until next March’s elections, Wilders could well be the Netherlands’ next prime minister—as he told attendees of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July.
Trump’s campaign and victory have been invigorating for Wilders, who has adopted the slogan “Make the Netherlands Great Again.” “We are witnessing the same uprising on both sides of the Atlantic,” he wrote in a Breitbart op-ed the day following Trump’s election. “The Patriotic Spring is sweeping the Western world. People are standing up and liberating themselves.”
Trump and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. What Could Go Wrong?
This is the sixth in a series of posts looking at how Donald Trump’s presidency could impact countries and regions around the world.
Donald Trump has described Israeli-Palestinian peace as the “ultimate deal,” suggesting that he may be tempted to take on the challenge that has bedeviled and defeated his predecessors for more than half a century. It’s pretty unclear, however, where Trump stands on the longstanding and complicated conflict, if anywhere at all.
While the Israeli right has reacted gleefully to his win, Trump’s views aren’t as one-note as you might think. Though he’s expressed his fondness for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and refers frequently to the fact that he was once Grand Marshal of New York’s Israel Day parade, Trump said during the Republican primary that he planned to be “sort of a neutral guy” in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. He told the AP last December that a peace deal would depend on “whether or not Israel’s willing to sacrifice certain things.” He gave a speech to Jewish-American Republicans laden with Jewish stereotypes, saying “you’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money.” And last year he canceled a planned trip to Israel after Netanyahu criticized his proposal to bar Muslims from entering the United States. But by March, Trump was on message, promising the American Israel Public Affairs Conference, “When I become president, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on day one.”
Under Trump, the Republican party is already shifting even further to the right on Israel. The GOP platform adopted at this year’s convention broke precedent by not calling for a two-state solution and also included language explicitly rejecting the notion that Israel is occupying the West Bank.
Unsurprisingly, not everyone on the Trump team is on the same page. Trump’s Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner has crafted some of Trump’s statements on Israel and Trump has suggested that he would make a good Middle East peace envoy as he “knows the region, knows the people, knows the players.” Kushner has made few public statements about his views on the conflict, but the Washington Post recently reported that the family foundation he runs has donated to West Bank settlements. Trump’s pick for Secretary of Defense James Mattis, however, said in a 2013 interview with Wolf Blitzer at the Aspen Security Forum that Israel was heading toward “apartheid”—a word that has touched a nerve, to put it mildly, when U.S. officials have used it in the past—and that “I paid a military-security price every day as the commander of CentCom because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel.”
Still, it seems safe to predict that Trump’s relationship with Netanyahu’s government will at least be more overtly friendly than Obama’s. For one thing, Trump and Netanyahu both view the Iran deal as a disaster. That deal has been a huge source of tension between Netanyahu and Obama. Aaron David Miller, a former State Department Middle East negotiator who served under multiple U.S. administrations between 1978 and 2003 and is now a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, describes the Obama-Netanyahu years as “the most dysfunctional relationship that I’ve witnessed between Israeli presidents and American presidents.” He predicted that under Trump, “the chemistry is going to improve, partly through inattention.” He says he suspects that Trump is unlikely to be deeply involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unless there’s a major escalation in the level of violence—certainly not out of the question. Even during the worst days of the Obama-Netanyahu relationship, the U.S. provided Israel with billions in military aid and vetoed Palestinian statehood bids at the United Nations on its behalf. None of that is going to change now.
Under this “leave Israel alone” scenario, not that much is likely to change on the ground. “The Israelis don’t exactly quake in their boots when the State Department does the ritual condemnation of the latest settlement expansion,” says Daniel Levy, president of the U.S./Middle East Project.
Palestinians are also skeptical that much will change under the new administration, says Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights. “In the view from occupied Palestine, there’s not a huge difference in terms of what they expected Washington to do or not do based on the outcome of this election,” he says. “The leaders there, even those that have been invested in the Washington-led peace process, have come to the conclusion that Washington is not capable of mediating this process and have tried to find other ways to move the situation forward.”
But the Art of the Deal author, who partly based his pitch to voters on his vaunted negotiating skills, may not be content to sit on the sidelines. If he does take on the peace process, he’s likely to find it as frustrating as his predecessors, says Miller. “Let’s be clear, it’s not ready for prime time. Neither Netanyahu nor [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas are anywhere near making the kind of decisions that would allow even the greatest negotiator in the world, Mr. Trump, to bridge those differences,” he says, sarcastically.
Another possibility is that Trump could radically shift U.S. policy by abandoning the stated goal of a two-state solution altogether. After Trump’s election, Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the pro-settlement Jewish Home party expressed his hope that “the era of the Palestinian state is over.” One of Trump’s legal advisors, Jason Greenblatt, has said that the president-elect doesn’t see the settlements as an obstacle to peace.
One early test of just how radically different this administration will be is whether Trump follows through on his campaign pledge to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the future capital of an independent state, while many Israelis believe that the undivided city should be their capital. Moving the embassy would be viewed as an endorsement of the latter. A U.S. law passed in 1995 called for the embassy to be moved but allows the president to delay the move for six months due to national security concerns, which has been done ever since. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush promised to move the embassy while campaigning, but then went back on their pledges once in office. Moving the embassy would further enrage the Arab and Muslim world and intensify the religious nature of the conflict without any tangible benefit. Senior diplomats in the State Department, if Trump were taking briefings from them, would advise against the move. But Trump’s phone call with Taiwan’s president last week suggests that he’s not shy about overturning decades of diplomatic practice, regardless of the risks. Miller says moving the embassy “would send a powerful signal that the Israel-Palestinian peace process, at least for the Trump administration, is closed for the season.”
If that happens, Munayyer says, it will be a blow to the credibility of the current Palestinian leadership. “The leadership has been saying to the people, we’re going to have a Palestinian state, that’s the goal. And it’s going to happen through negotiations with the Israelis mediated by Washington. That was the narrative that was driven by the leadership to the public. A reversal on that is going to be pretty chaotic,” he says.
This could lead Palestinian leaders to shift their focus to efforts outside the framework of the American-led peace process. Abbas has been big on symbolic gestures to maintain public credibility, such as seeking recognition from foreign governments, pursuing long-shot cases against Israel through the International Criminal Court, and telling the U.N. General Assembly last year that he is no longer bound by the 1995 Oslo Accords. But a complete collapse of the peace process could increase pressure to take more dramatic steps, such as suspending security cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Abbas has also recently renewed calls for forming a unity government with Hamas, the militant group that holds power in Gaza and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States.
A U.S. administration that abandons the two-state solution and either stops criticizing settlement-building or actively encourages it, would pose its own set of headaches for Netanyahu. Though the prime minister has flirted with abandoning the two-state goal in the past, he generally prefers to remain at least rhetorically committed to it. Israeli politics have shifted to the right to the point that Netanyahu is a relative centrist within his cabinet, and he likes it that way. A fundamentally cautious politician, Netanyahu doesn’t want to take the risk of opposing settlement building or effectively endorsing the permanent annexation of the West Bank. Under the current status quo, he doesn’t have to pick a side. U.S. opposition has given Netanyahu cover to restrain the pro-settlement right within his government without actively opposing it. With Trump, that fig leaf could fall away.
This new dynamic already played out in the debate over a proposed bill that would legalize outposts built on private Palestinian land. Netanyahu initially opposed the bill on the not-very-convincing grounds that it would encourage prosecution by the International Criminal Court. This may have been because, with Trump heading to the White House, he could no longer cite U.S. opposition as a reason. Netanyahu eventually supported the bill, which stands a good chance of being overturned by Israel’s Supreme Court, rather than risk a showdown with Bennett and his right-wing supporters.
“The paradox is that after 10 years, Netanyahu finally gets to cohabit with a Republican president, but it’s going to throw up as many problems as joy,” says Levy.
The advent of Trump, and what’s likely to be a publicly chummy relationship between him and Netanyahu, could also complicate the critical relationship between Israel and American Jews. Jews overwhelmingly voted against Trump, rejecting him in even greater numbers than past Republican candidates. The anti-Semitic rhetoric of many of Trump’s supporters and his appointment of Steve Bannon as chief strategist have been condemned by the Anti-Defamation League. Levy argues that the Israeli right, seeing GOP leaders as better for their longterm interests, have been “conspicuously indifferent to right-wing anti-Semitism, which places them on a collision course with the American Jewish community.” It remains to be seen how the American Jewish community will respond to an American president who is overtly “pro-Israel,” but whose most fervent supporters are anti-Semites. It also remains to be seen how splintered American Jews become during the Trump years. For instance, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee declined to condemn the Bannon hiring.
This is a messy situation all around. In fairness, neither Hillary Clinton nor any of the Republican challengers Trump beat in the primary were much more likely to land the “ultimate deal” than he is. But in the Middle East, no matter how bad the situation gets, there’s always a chance for it to get worse.
Trump National Security Adviser Thinks There Are Arabic Signs on U.S. Border Directing Terrorists
Let’s say you want to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to keep people from coming across the 2,000-mile expanse. It’s largely never been done before because most people on either side of the wall-to-be have always found it neither cost-effective nor practically effective. But you really want it. Bad. How would you go about convincing Americans that are pretty meh about the whole idea to get on board with building your wall? Perhaps you’d come up with a story. A scary story. A real humdinger. One like this, perhaps?
"I know from my friends in the Border Patrol in CBP that there are countries -- radical Islamist countries, state-sponsored -- that are cutting deals with Mexican drug cartels for some of what they call the 'lanes of entry' into our country… "And I have personally seen the photos of the signage along those paths that are in Arabic. They're like way points along that path as you come in. Primarily, in this case the one that I saw was in Texas and it's literally, it's like signs, that say, in Arabic, 'this way, move to this point.' It's unbelievable."
That yarn, uncovered by CNN, comes courtesy of future National Security Advisor Gen. Michael Flynn during a SiriusXM radio interview in August with, wait for it, Breitbart News. In case you were wondering, CNN asked the border patrol agent labor union if they were worried about these clearly marked terror superhighways and the group said they were unaware of any Arabic signs. Gen. Flynn is also, unsurprisingly, a conspiracy theorist, which makes him a -phobe writ large of everything that’s not crewcut, lily white, and American AF.
After Haunting Eyewitness Testimony, Dylann Roof’s Mother Suffers Heart Attack in Courtroom
The high-profile trial of Dylann Roof for the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church began on Wednesday with devastating eyewitness accounts of the racially motivated attack on June 17, 2015. One witness recalled how the now-22-year-old white supremacist entered the Bible study session that night and waited almost 45 minutes for the 12 participants to stand and close their eyes in prayer before opening fire. Roof methodically shot 77 times, killing nine parishioners. The testimony was so haunting and emotional that Roof’s mother collapsed in the courtroom of a heart attack while mouthing “I’m sorry.”
“In the defense's opening statement, attorney David Bruck said ‘there is not a great deal to dispute’ and both he and [the lead prosecutor] expected the jury would find Roof guilty,” according to the Associated Press. “The defense has said repeatedly in federal and state court that Roof would be willing to plead guilty if capital punishment was taken off the table.”
Roof is facing 33 counts, 18 of which carry the death penalty.
The President of the United States Will Not Give Up His Apprentice Producing Credit or Paycheck
Donald Trump isn’t ready to leave the world of reality television behind when he heads to Washington next month, via Variety:
Trump will remain an exec producer on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” which is returning Jan. 2 after a two-year hiatus with new host Arnold Schwarzenegger.
MGM confirmed to Variety that Trump has retained his EP credit on the series. … In the credit sequence, Trump’s name will air after that of “Apprentice” creator Mark Burnett and before Schwarzenegger, who is also an exec producer of the new incarnation along with Page Feldman and Eric Van Wagenen.
Trump Tower confirmed the news in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter. “Mr. Trump has a big stake in the show and conceived of it with Mark Burnett,” spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in a statement. “Additional details regarding his business interests will be shared December 15th.”
NBC made a big deal about cutting business ties with Trump back in 2015 after he launched his campaign with an anti-immigrant rant that became his mission statement. The network brass, it would seem, feels differently about being associated with xenophobic President-elect Trump than it did about being associated with xenophobic GOP candidate Trump.
The financial terms of the deal were not announced, but Variety reports that Trump’s per-episode fee is likely to be in “the low five-figures, at minimum,” and that it will be paid by way of MGM, which produces the show, and not NBC, which airs it. That, however, is a distinction without much difference, since Trump and the network’s financial interests will nonetheless be intertwined once again. Even if Trump were to donate his royalties from this season to charity—unlikely!—he’d still stand to benefit on the backend from franchise fees. Starting this January, what’s good for the Celebrity Apprentice will be good for Trump and good for NBC.
The network, of course, has a news division. NBC News infamously deferred to the network’s entertainment division over the Access Hollywood video, allowing it to get scooped by the Washington Post. Shortly after, Apprentice co-creator Mark Burnett faced pressure to release behind-the-scenes footage from his show, but ultimately did not citing legal concerns. At the time, Burnett spoke out against what he said was the “hatred, division, and misogyny” in Trump’s campaign. Now, he’s not only teaming back up with Trump on the new season, he’s also apparently giving the president-elect advice on how to stage his inauguration parade.
In the grand scheme of things, Trump’s reality-show royalties are small potatoes. The Trump family business empire will create far larger and more troubling conflicts of interest—both at home and abroad—than a TV credit ever could. But the simple fact that Trump is unwilling to give up this relatively small thing should make it clear that he’s never been serious about leaving his business outside the White House door.
What Is Time’s Trump Cover Really Trying to Tell Us?
This extremely long and detailed nightmare I’m having in which Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States is getting darker. My very fertile, very thorough imagination has now produced a Time cover—which, given the internal and inexorable logic of the fantasy, features Trump as the 2016 Person of the Year. I am not going to litigate whether or not this choice was appropriate, because everyone involved in the decision is a figment of my overheated brain, but Ben Mathis-Lilley points out that Time has long selected distasteful individuals, including Hitler, Stalin, and Putin, for POY honor. (Not to mention that in election years, the magazine typically opts for the president-elect.)
Anyway, here’s the image.
Creepy, no? On Twitter, Helen Rosner observes that London-based photographer Nadav Kander incorporated aesthetic flourishes from 1940s studio portraiture: a “Kodachrome palette,” “over-the-shoulder physicality,” lots of shadow, and luxurious props.
Dark, icy-cold shadows on his hands w spotlight vignetting on his face, the over-the-shoulder physicality—all straight from the early 40s— Helen Rosner (@hels) December 7, 2016
Maybe the point of these ’40s tropes is to suggest that Trump, as promised by his hat, out of which he talks, will renew the “Greatest Generation.” Maybe it’s to imply the opposite: that the PEOTUS is a Nazi. (Certainly something about the chair and the just-so angle of his head—what one colleague terms his “evil coquette look”—evokes Time’s 1938 Mensch of the Jahr.)
But even if the WWII-era references are accidental, or just intend to communicate solemnity, the coldness and darkness of the image seem notably menacing. Equally scary are four accompanying black-and-white photographs that present Trump’s inner circle—Bannon, Conway, Priebus, and Pence—unsmiling and sunk in gloom.
Kanders' photos of Trump's cabal are even more unsettling tbh. Hierophant, High Priestess, the Hanged Man, and Judgment. pic.twitter.com/t3JWbXOOhw— Charles PM (@CharlesPulliam) December 7, 2016
Over email, Kander declined to answer specific questions about the photo shoot, but he did release the following statement through his publicist:
For this commission, we were inspired by iconic portrait sittings throughout history. Upon arriving at Trump’s residence, I wanted to integrate a detail from his environment into the photograph. I tried a few set ups, but this image of President-Elect Trump in his chair stood out as the cover. The importance of this picture rests on the fact that we are at a crossroad in history.
This is a pretty diplomatic hedge for a creature born from my subconscious. Not so diplomatic? The bright-red devil horns protruding out of the presidential pate.
Is it possible that Time’s editors did this without realizing it?
Slate designer Derreck Johnson expressed skepticism. “The alignment with Trump’s head is just too perfect,” he said. Noting that Time has weaponized its pointy “M” in the past, he added that “this is the first one I've seen where it's not an extreme close-up. It's a full body thing. So it makes it stand out even more.”
Meanwhile, Trump took umbrage at the least offensive thing about this Time cover, from his perspective: the magazine’s description of him as “President of the Divided States of America.”
A Weary Nation Thanks Beloved 1980s Actor Judge Reinhold for Breaking the Tension by Getting Arrested for Taking His Shirt Off at an Airport
These are generally dark times in the United States. Things are tense. A majority of the Americans who voted in the presidential election favored the candidate who, somehow, lost; even many of the winner's supporters have qualms about his character and temperament, and he will enter office as the least popular inauguree in modern history. Also, it's December so it's literally dark outside most of the time.
Which is why we all owe a big debt of gratitude to beloved Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Beverly Hills Cop, Santa Clause, and Arrested Development actor Judge Reinhold for brightening our day with a classic celebrity meltdown arrest.
Sources tell News 8 that actor Judge Reinhold has been arrested by Dallas Police at Love Field for disorderly conduct.— Rebecca Lopez (@rlopezwfaa) December 8, 2016
Sources say actor Judge Reinhold was selected for private screening. He refused and became belligerent. DPD arrested him.— Rebecca Lopez (@rlopezwfaa) December 8, 2016
Sources say Judge Reinhold reportedly took his shirt off and started cursing and refused TSA screening. DPD arrested him.— Rebecca Lopez (@rlopezwfaa) December 8, 2016
Airports! They'll get ya.
Trump EPA Pick: States Have a Right to Spew Pollution but Not to Legalize Pot
Donald Trump revealed Thursday that he has selected Scott Pruitt, the current Oklahoma attorney general, to run the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is a curious choice because he has made a career of suing the EPA to block regulations designed to protect clean air and water. (Naturally, he also denies the existence of climate change.) As head of the agency, Pruitt will surely abolish myriad environmental regulations, justifying the rollback the same way he justified his many anti-EPA lawsuits—as a defense of states’ constitutional right to control their own pollution.
Don’t believe it for a second. Pruitt is one of the phoniest federalists in the GOP—a party notorious for praising states’ rights yet backing expansive federal power when it suits them. At the same time that Pruitt supported states’ ability to regulate pollution within their own borders—and keep the federal government from regulating it for them—he argued that states have no right to legalize marijuana. His rationale for this apparent contradiction? Pollution isn’t especially harmful to other states. Marijuana is.
Pruitt’s pot hypocrisy is impossible to square with his own carefully cultivated image as a loyal defender of states’ rights. As Oklahoma AG, Pruitt set up a “Federalism Unit” to defend state sovereignty. Opposing breathable air and nontoxic water are not politically viable positions—but opposing federal overreach certainly is, at least in Oklahoma. So Pruitt, whose political career was financed by the oil and gas industries, framed his EPA lawsuits as a defense of state autonomy against an out-of-control federal government.