WASHINGTON — In a 2016 radio interview, Scott Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general and current Environmental Protection Agency administrator, warned that then-candidate Donald Trump would “unapologetically” abuse the Constitution if elected to the White House.
In the segment, Campbell asks Pruitt: “Given your comments about hubris, I’m going to say that you’re probably not a big Trump supporter?”
“No,” Pruitt replied. “I believe that Donald Trump in the White House would be more abusive to the Constitution than Barack Obama ― and that’s saying a lot.”
At the time of the interview, Pruitt was a policy adviser to Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush.
Some other remarks Pruitt made during that interview:
I really believe he would use a blunt instrument. [Obama] at least tries to nuance his unlawfulness...
Donald Trump has said many, many times they want... ‘I’ll do this, I’ll do that.’ And those things that he’s mentioned cannot be done. I think executive orders with Donald Trump would be a very blunt instrument with respect to the Constitution...
[If] Donald Trump is the nominee and eventually the president, he would take, I think, unapologetic steps to use executive power to confront Congress in a way that is truly unconstitutional...
I think he has tendencies that we see in emerging countries around the world, where he goes to the disaffected, those individuals, and says, ‘Look, you give me power and I will give voice to your concerns.’ And that’s a dangerous place to be. And rule of law today ― this president has done more to injure rule of law ― he owes President Nixon an apology with respect to the use of executive power. But President Obama, we don’t need to replace him with another individual ― as you said, our bully ― in the White House, to do what he’s done from the Republican side of things.”
At a congressional hearing Tuesday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) asked Pruitt if he recalled making those comments.
“I don’t, Senator,” Pruitt said. “And I don’t echo that today at all.”
“I bet not,” Whitehouse replied.
Tuesday marked Pruitt’s first appearance before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee since his confirmation hearing a year ago. Trump is slated to give his first State of the Union speech Tuesday evening.
“I think the president is going to be speaking to a country in which millions of people share your concerns of Feb. 4, 2016, about a president who you believed then would be abusive to the Constitution, a bully and dangerous,” Whitehouse told Pruitt.