Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt reportedly wanted to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year, according to sources who spoke with CNN, and the scandal-plagued official presented the idea directly to President Donald Trump.
At the time, Trump was – for the second time in his short tenure – growing impatient and displeased with Sessions, who had recused himself from the Russia investigation last year.
In an Oval Office conversation with Trump, Pruitt offered to temporarily replace Sessions for 210 days under the Vacancies Reform Act, telling the President he would return to Oklahoma afterward to run for office.
Advisers quickly shot down the proposal, but it came at a time when Trump's frustration with Sessions over his decision to recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation had resurfaced. Trump has complained loudly and publicly about the recusal for the last 14 months, and floated replacing Sessions with Pruitt as recently as April.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment, but Pruitt issued a statement saying: "This report is simply false. General Sessions and I are friends and I have always said I want nothing more than to see him succeed in his role."
Pruitt, who Trump has stood by despite being unhappy “about certain things”, is facing at least 14 federal investigations, with a new issue surfacing just this week.
On Monday, it was revealed that he and his aides kept "secret" calendars and schedules and would discuss which meetings and calls with industry representatives and others to include or omit from their publicly released calendar, according to a former EPA official who is expected to soon testify before Congress. A review of EPA documents by CNN found discrepancies between Pruitt's official calendar and other records. If the allegations are true, the practice of keeping secret calendars and altering or deleting records of meetings could violate federal law as either "falsifying records" or hiding public records, according to legal experts interviewed by CNN.