'Egregious Cover-Up': After Ruling on Pruitt Emails, Dems Demand Vote Delay

Democratic lawmakers and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) workers are mobilizing against Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt after a judge on Thursday ordered the release of thousands of emails between his office and fossil fuel companies—raising questions about whether the EPA nominee engaged in corruption.

In response to the order, Senate Democrats called for a delay on Pruitt’s confirmation hearing, which is still scheduled for Friday after he passed out of the Senate Finance Committee earlier this month amid a Democratic boycott. According to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), lawmakers will force a vote to extend the debate at 12:30pm.

Oklahoma County District Judge Aletia Haynes Timmons on Thursday gave Pruitt until February 21 to hand over more than 2,500 emails he withheld from the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), a watchdog group that has been pursuing the documents since 2014. CMD and the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit earlier this month which accused Pruitt of violating the state’s Open Records Act.

“[T]here was an abject failure to provide prompt and reasonable access to documents requested,” Timmons wrote in her ruling.

The emails are “essential to fair consideration of Pruitt’s nomination,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said Thursday. “But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is forcing the Senate to vote tomorrow on Pruitt even though his emails won’t be released until Tuesday. This is an egregious cover-up that must not stand.”

That call was echoed by others.