Scott Pruitt once let himself into the Oval Office and asked President Donald Trump to sign off on withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement on the spot, according to a new book by Bob Woodward detailing the inner workings of the Trump White House.
Woodward recounted the “off-the-books” meeting in April 2017 at which Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Steve Bannon, the White House chief strategist, took it upon themselves to push Trump to exit the international plan to reverse climate change that former President Barack Obama committed to in 2015.
“No one had been consulted. There had been no legal review. Pruitt and Bannon had snuck into the Oval Office and wanted an instant decision on the major international and national environmental issue of the day,” Woodward wrote in “Fear: Trump in the White House,” set to be released Tuesday.
White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who later resigned after his two ex-wives accused him of physical and verbal abuse, later removed Pruitt’s proposed statement from Trump’s desk, according to Woodward. Trump would ultimately withdraw from the agreement about two months later.
But the episode is one of several that have emerged in recent days that depict the administration as out of Trump’s control.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Woodward’s book included an extraordinary story of insubordination in the White House.
Gary Cohn, then the director of the White House National Economic Council, was opposed to Trump’s plan to withdraw from a free-trade agreement with South Korea. To keep him from doing so, Cohn “stole a letter off Trump’s desk” that Trump intended to send to South Korean President Moon Jae-in announcing the U.S.’s withdrawal.
Last Wednesday, The New York Times published an anonymous op-ed from a “senior official in the Trump administration” who claimed that “many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.”
It infuriated Trump, who on Friday said Attorney General Jeff Sessions should investigate to determine the author’s identity.