REPORT: Trump Asked Energy Department Watchdog To Resign Thinking He Was An Obama Appointee

Chris White | Energy Reporter

The Trump administration asked the Department of Energy’s (DOE) inspector general to resign because President Donald Trump thought he was an Obama-era appointee, according to a Vanity Fair report published Thursday.

Trump attempted to clear the DOE building of an official under the “mistaken belief” that the person was former President Barack Obama’s appointee, according to the wide-ranging report. The official’s job was only saved after members of Congress informed the White House that the inspectors general were permanent staff.

Vanity Fair’s report suggested the Trump administration refused to accept internal knowledge Obama-era officials gathered to help Trump prepare for the presidency. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, for instance, spent “minutes, not hours” speaking with former secretary Ernest Moniz, a nuclear physicist, about the agency’s responsibilities.

“My team prepared its own books. They were never given to anybody. I never had a chance to sit with [the Trump people] and tell them what we’re doing, even for a day,” former chief risk officer John MacWilliams told reporters about his experience during the transition period.

A DOE spokeswoman disputed the report’s conclusions, telling Axios Thursday that the report’s sources come from former Obama officials who are biter about the presidential election’s outcome.

“To publish the absurd claim that the Secretary of Energy ‘has never been briefed on a program—not a single one’ discredits this entire article. It is filled with biased, factually inaccurate and completely subjective claims made by some who were clearly very bitter turning over the reins of DOE to a new administration,” DOE spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes told reporters.  “It reads like a cheap tabloid piece and does not warrant any further response.”

Trump believes that former Obama officials inside his administration are purposely trying to torpedo his agenda. One recent example appears to show that some elements within the Department of the Treasury attempted to use ExxonMobil to brush back Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Sanctions experts suggested earlier this month that the Treasury Department acted strangely when the agency issued a $2 million fine against Exxon for forging a deal in 2014 with Russian oil giant Rosneft.

The Treasury Department’s decision points out that Exxon’s “senior-most executives” were involved in violations is almost certainly a dig at Tillerson, who led the company at the time of the alleged transgression, sanctions analysts noted.

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