Perry’s resignation: The details

Source: By Kelsey Brugger, E&E News reporter • Posted: Sunday, October 20, 2019

President Trump praised outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry last night at a campaign rally in Texas — hours after the state’s former governor handed the president his resignation letter on Air Force One.

“He has done a phenomenal job,” Trump said. “Rick Perry couldn’t have done a better job.”

Though Perry’s departure has been expected for months, yesterday marked the first time Perry publicly confirmed he would leave his post.

In the letter, which the Department of Energy released, Perry said it had been an “extreme honor” to serve in the Cabinet and that he would step down “at a date later this year.”

“Mr. President,” Perry wrote, “for decades, American Presidents have talked about the importance of energy independence. Under your watch, it has finally been achieved. We no longer depend on other nations for our energy supply — nor are we beholden to the geopolitics of other world leaders for our energy security.”

Trump briefly praised Perry at the Dallas rally and beforehand told reporters he and Perry had discussed his exit for six months. Trump said he thought Perry would have already been gone by now.

“He’s got some very big plans,” Trump told reporters, according to pool reports. “He’s going to be very successful. We have his successor we’ll announce it pretty soon.”

“We already have his replacement. Rick has done a fantastic job. But it was time,” Trump added.

At an earlier event yesterday, touring the Louis Vuitton leather workshop in north-central Texas, Trump said Perry’s replacement was a “he” but did not name him. “I think he’ll do a fantastic job. We worked on that together,” he said. “Right, Rick?”

Perry’s successor, at least temporarily, is widely expected to be Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette, a close Perry ally with a long career in Washington, D.C. (Energywire, May 14). As deputy, the Louisiana native is known to be running operations at DOE headquarters during Perry’s travels.

Perry’s role in promoting natural gas has entangled him in the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into President Trump because of his dealings with Ukraine. Democratic investigators subpoenaed Perry last week and requested that he hand over a trove of communications by today. It is unclear if Perry will comply with that request.

“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 this week. “I’m going to follow the lead of my counsel on that.”

Perry supporters maintain his exit plans are unrelated to the Democrats’ probe. Perry has long sought to expand American oil, gas and coal abroad as a way to spread “freedom,” they say.

In his resignation letter, Perry noted work at the DOE national labs to develop “more abundant, less expensive and cleaner energy.”

He named cybersecurity and artificial intelligence as his key accomplishments. In his tenure, he created standalone offices for those efforts. “Now more than ever, I believe strongly in the mission of the Department of Energy,” he said. “The people across the enterprise have a sincere commitment to this country.”

DOE also released a four-minute video message to employees titled, “The Coolest Job in the World,” where Perry addressed his “DOE family,” adding that he still has more to do in the coming weeks.

“The men and women who serve alongside me at one of the most innovative places on earth — the Department of Energy,” he said. “From my first day on the job in March of 2017 you welcomed me with open arms even though you probably didn’t know what to expect from this born and bred Texan who had just arrived in Washington, D.C.”