Kristin Mink, a teacher and the mother of a 2-year-old, was eating lunch at a teashop in Washington, D.C., on Monday when her husband noticed a familiar face a few tables away. Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, was dining with a companion.
“Instantly, I knew I had to say something,” Mink told HuffPost in a phone interview. “He’s someone I think about all the time. He’s directly impacting the future of the world.”
So she picked up her child, walked over to introduce herself and asked the man to resign.
“This is my son. He loves animals. He loves clean air. He loves clean water,” Mink told Pruitt in a video she later posted to her Facebook account. “Meanwhile, you’re slashing strong fuel standards for cars and trucks for the benefit of big corporations.”
She continued: “We deserve to have somebody at the EPA who actually does protect our environment, somebody who believes in climate change and takes it seriously for the benefit of all of us, including our children. I would urge you to resign before your scandals push you out.”
Pruitt listened to Mink as she calmly listed a bevy of the scandals plaguing his tenure at the EPA, but he doesn’t say anything in reply. He then left the restaurant with several members of his security detail without saying a word.
“He had no defense. He had no explanation. He had no apology. He had nothing to say,” she told HuffPost. “When you are a government official ... you are supposed to be directly working for the citizens that you’re serving. He’s a public servant. When you’re in that position, you should want to hear from the people who you are supposed to be taking care of.”
An EPA spokesman told HuffPost that Pruitt’s “leaving had nothing to do with the confrontation, he had simply finished his meal and needed to get back to EPA for a briefing.”
“Administrator Pruitt always welcomes input from Americans, whether they agree or disagree with the decisions being made at EPA,” the spokesman, Lincoln Ferguson, said. “This is evident by him listening to her comments and going on to thank her, which is not shown in the video.”
Mink’s encounter spread like wildfire on social media, similar to other recent interactions between frustrated members of the public and officials in the Trump administration.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Neilsen was confronted by activists shouting “Shame!” at a Mexican restaurant last month. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao got visibly angry with protesters yelling at her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). And picketers have been targeting the home of White House adviser Stephen Miller in recent days.
Mink said being with her son while Pruitt was nearby “sparked something” in her that afternoon because she believes his decisions will affect “the world that my child is going to inherit, the world that all of our children are going to inherit.”
“He’s sacrificing our water, our air, the wellbeing of coastal communities,” she said. “He’s sacrificing those things for his own short time gain. I really don’t know how he sleeps at night. It’s pretty unfathomable to me.”
This story has been updated with comment from an EPA spokesman.