Perry to Resign by Year's End 10/18 06:11
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced Thursday that he
will leave his job by the end of the year, saying that under President Donald
Trump the nation is nearing energy independence.
Perry's long-rumored departure comes as he is under scrutiny over the role
he played in the president's dealings with Ukraine, the focus of an ongoing
In a letter to Trump, Perry made no mention of Ukraine and exalted policy
successes that have led to increased production and exports of oil and natural
"The U.S. private sector is leading the world in energy production,
exploration and exports," Perry said. "Today, when the world looks for energy,
they can now think of America first."
Trump said Perry "has done a fantastic job" at Energy, "but it was time" for
him to leave.
Perry, 69, a former Texas governor, has been energy secretary since March
2017, making him one of the longest-serving members of Trump's Cabinet, which
has seen huge turnover.
He was traveling with Trump to Texas when he notified the president of his
decision aboard Air Force One.
Trump told reporters he "knew six months ago" that Perry wanted to leave by
the end of the year. "He's got some ideas for doing something else. He's a
terrific guy," Trump said.
Trump said he already knows who will succeed Perry, but declined to identify
House Democrats have subpoenaed Perry for documents related to a Ukrainian
state-owned energy company as well as his involvement in a July call between
Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The lawmakers set a Friday
Trump has said Perry teed up the July 25 call, in which Trump pressed
Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son, who was
employed by a Ukrainian gas company.
A spokeswoman for Perry has said he wanted Trump to speak with the Ukrainian
leader on energy matters related to U.S. efforts to boost Western energy ties
to Eastern Europe. It is part of a long-term effort to lessen the political
control Russia wields through its dominance of the fuel supply.
The Associated Press reported this month that a circle of businessmen and
Republican donors touted their connections to Trump and his personal lawyer,
Rudy Giuliani, as they sought to install new management at the top of Ukraine's
state-owned gas company last spring.
The plan hit a snag after Zelinskiy's election, but Perry took up the effort
to install a friendlier management team at the company, Naftogaz. Perry
attended Zelinskiy's May 2019 inauguration as the administration's senior
representative and met privately with Zelinskiy. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Perry had disputed published reports that he was planning to leave the
administration. He told a news conference in Lithuania earlier this month: "One
of these days they will probably get it right. But it's not today, it's not
tomorrow, not next month. Keep saying it and one day you'll be right."
Perry, who twice ran for president before taking the job at Energy, has kept
a relatively low-profile in his 2 -year tenure. He has supported Trump's call
for "energy dominance" around the world and pushed to bolster struggling
coal-fired and nuclear power plants. He said last year that a rash of coal and
nuclear retirements was "alarming" and posed a looming crisis for the nation's
"If unchecked, (the plant closures) will threaten our ability to recover
from intentional attacks and natural disasters," Perry said at a speech in
Trump, who has frequently promised to bring back coal jobs, directed Perry
in June 2018 to take "immediate steps" to bolster struggling coal-fired and
nuclear power plants to keep them open, calling it a matter of national and
No definitive action has been taken since then. A regional transmission
organization that oversees the power grid in 13 Eastern and Midwestern states
said there's no immediate threat to system reliability.
Perry has won plaudits from lawmakers for an easygoing style that reflects a
life in politics, and he has frequently distanced himself from severe budget
cuts to energy programs sought by the White House. He has toured Energy
Department sites around the country, represented the Trump administration at
meetings overseas and begun a years-long process to revive a shuttered nuclear
waste dump at Nevada's Yucca Mountain.
Before taking the Energy job, Perry had been subjected to widespread
ridicule after forgetting the name of an agency he pledged to eliminate as
president. That agency was the Energy Department. Despite that, Perry has
emerged as a strong defender of the department's work, especially the 17
national labs that conduct cutting-edge research on everything from national
security to renewable energy.
"I'm telling you officially the coolest job I've ever had is being secretary
of Energy ... and it's because of these labs," Perry told employees at the
Idaho National Laboratory in 2017.
Trump denied reports that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott or Alaska Gov. Mike
Dunleavy could replace Perry, but said, "They would both be very good."