Since Donald Trump’s election, Arnold Schwarzenegger has continued making headlines out of office by trading barbs with the president of his own party over reality-television ratings and racism in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The former California governor recently found a new Trump-related target: Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
While testifying at the California State Capitol late last week, Schwarzenegger laid into Trump’s EPA chief, calling him “without any doubt, the wrong person at that place” and his tenure at the agency “so sad,” according to press reports in the Sacramento Bee, Los Angeles Times and elsewhere.
“He does not represent the people,” Schwarzenegger said. “He only represents the special interests. He should be removed immediately.”
Among Democrats, Pruitt is one of the most disliked deputies in the Trump administration, and it isn’t uncommon to hear rhetoric this cutting from across the aisle. Plenty of former EPA officials from Republican administrations, like ex-EPA administrators William Ruckelshaus and Christine Todd Whitman, have criticized Pruitt in harsh terms as well.
But the same cannot be said of the several elected Republicans (both current and former) who haven’t been shy about questioning Trump’s fitness for office or commitment to conservatism. Jeb Bush, another former GOP governor, once said “cannot think of a person more suited to lead the Environmental Protection Agency” than Pruitt. Pruitt’s to-do list during his first months at the EPA, which included beginning to repeal the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States rule, could have been cribbed from a letter Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, sent Pruitt in February.
That month, every one of Sasse’s Republican colleagues in the Senate except Susan Collins of Maine voted to confirm Pruitt. Not much has changed one year later: During the EPA chief’s most recent testimony in front of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Republicans heaped praise on Pruitt.
To be clear, Schwarzenegger is hardly a typical Republican, so his criticism isn’t as surprising. California has also distinguished itself as the state spearheading The Resistance to the Trump administration. In 2006, Schwarzenegger signed California’s cap-and-trade program for carbon dioxide into existence. And the state the actor governed for seven years hardly takes a typical approach to energy and environmental policy. California produces more solar power than the rest of the country combined. Under the Clear Air Act, it can restrict tailpipe emissions more stringently than any other state in the nation.
Still, by and large Pruitt has the backing of elected GOP elites. That makes the latest comments from Schwarzenegger, even if he is already a tried-and-true Trump critic, stand out.
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