Turns out that Rick Perry won’t be sticking around as long as the Wall Street Journal thought. As the focus of the Ukraine-Gate probe falls on the so-called “Three Amigos” — Perry, Kurt Volker, and Gordon Sondland — Perry has decided to say adios to Trump. Bloomberg suspects that Trump’s attempt to shift blame to Perry over the July 25th call to Volodymyr Zelensky might have provided the catalyst for his resignation:
Energy Secretary Rick Perry notified President Donald Trump on Thursday that he’ll leave the post this year.
Perry, one of the administration’s original cabinet secretaries, enjoyed good rapport with Trump. The former Texas governor has recently come under scrutiny in the House impeachment inquiry over his discussions with Ukraine. …
Perry had avoided the missteps that led to the downfall and exit of other cabinet members including Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
But as the impeachment investigation into White House interactions with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has expanded, some of that good will seemed to disappear. Trump earlier this month blamed Perry for the July 25 call with Zelenskiy that led to the whistle-blower complaint that spurred the probe, telling Republican lawmakers it was his energy secretary’s idea.
The recognition of Perry’s professionalism seems out of place here, but it’s at least accurate. Perry has been quietly effective, a rare combination in Trump’s Cabinet, even though his nomination was greeted with considerable skepticism by the media and Democrats when Trump made it. One reason Perry “avoided the missteps” is because he had decades of experience in public service and knew where the potential missteps were.
This belated recognition of Perry’s agility and success seems less like a congratulatory note and more like an attempt to use Perry to build a narrative against Trump, however. What do Pruitt and Zinke have to do with the Ukraine story or with Perry himself? Literally nothing, that’s what, except to extend an orange man bad theme.
Anyway, Trump’s blame for the Zelensky call might be one reason Perry has decided that it’s time to leave public service. It might also be the subpoenas and the administration’s insistence on defiance, too:
Energy Secretary Rick Perry faces a subpoena deadline Friday to turn over documents relating to House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, a day after he offered his resignation. …
“The House has sent a subpoena over for the records that we have, and our general counsel and the White House counsel are going through the process right now,” Perry said on Fox Business in a Wednesday morning interview. “I’m going to follow the lead of my counsel on that.”
There may not be much to hear from Perry anyway. Sondland’s prepared statement prior to his testimony declared Perry fully aligned with his own goals of working to support Ukraine and dealing with a chronic corruption problem, without any knowledge of what Giuliani’s agenda might otherwise be. Perry told the Wall Street Journal that Giuliani had insisted that overall corruption was Trump’s issue, not anyone in particular:
Perry said in an Oct. 16 Wall Street Journal interview that he had called Giuliani to understand Trump’s concerns about Ukraine.
“And as I recall the conversation, he said, ‘Look, the president is really concerned that there are people in Ukraine that tried to beat him during this presidential election,’” Perry told the Wall Street Journal. “‘He thinks they’re corrupt and…that there are still people over there engaged that are absolutely corrupt.’”
If that’s the case, then Perry won’t have much to add to the Democrats’ march toward impeachment. The White House and its counsel will control the documents he leaves behind at the DoE, so that’s one headache Perry won’t have regardless. He might have more to say in a Senate trial, assuming it gets that far, but by then he’ll be on his own and out of the arena.
So who will replace Perry at Energy? Trump had claimed that Perry had been planning his exit for a while, before Ukraine-Gate erupted at all, and that Trump would reveal Perry’s replacement at last night’s rally:
“We already have his replacement,” Trump told reporters on his way to a campaign stop in Texas. “Rick has done a fantastic job. But it was time.“ …
Trump did not state who Perry’s replacement would be, saying he planned to announce it at the rally Thursday night. …
“Rick and I have been talking for six months,” Trump told reporters. “In fact, I thought he might go a bit sooner. But he’s got some very big plans. He’s going to be very successful. We have his successor, we’ll announce it pretty soon.”
So far, though, it appears that the announcement has been delayed. Politico thought it might be Perry’s deputy Dan Brouillette, a former Ford Motors exec. Brouillette would at least be readily available for the job, and likely wouldn’t face much real opposition in the Senate. However, Democrats might take the opportunity to ask a few Ukraine-related questions during a confirmation hearing, unless the impeachment and trial are completed by that time.
The Trump administration will miss Perry and his quiet approach to the job. Perhaps they should have been satisfied with that rather than putting him in the lead of a politically charged diplomatic mission.