POLITICS
01/30/2018 01:03 pm ET

In 2016, Scott Pruitt Called Trump A Bully Who Would Abuse The Constitution

The EPA administrator said Tuesday that he doesn't recall making such comments.

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.

Pruitt’s Feb. 4, 2016, interview on the “Pat Campbell Radio Show” was uncovered and circulated Tuesday by the corporate watchdog group Documented.

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. 

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