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Reports: Energy Secretary Rick Perry tells Trump he will soon resign

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry (U.S. Department of Energy/Flickr)

Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Thursday told President Donald Trump that he will soon resign, according to multiple news reports.

The former Texas governor’s departure has been rumored for some time, though Perry has repeatedly batted down those reports, even as he’s become engulfed of late in the growing controversy over Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate a political rival.

An Energy Department spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

But Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Thursday appeared to confirm the news by issuing a press release that hailed the “former energy secretary” as a “good man and a good friend who has devoted his life to serving his country” and wished “him the best as he returns to private life after a long, successful and productive career.”

Another top Texas Republican, Rep. Kevin Brady of The Woodlands, also on Thursday appeared to send out a farewell note by thanking Perry for his “longstanding service to our nation.”

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The timing of Perry’s departure remains unclear, though it’s been reported that he plans to leave his Cabinet post by the end of the year. That would put him close to three years of service as Energy Secretary, which is about the norm for officials in that job.

Perry is in Texas on Thursday as Trump visits the Lone Star State for a political rally and other activities.

The energy chief rode down to his home state with Trump on Air Force One. Bloomberg News, which first reported the development, said that Perry informed the president in writing on the plane that he would soon be stepping down.

Just earlier this week, Perry disputed reports that he planned to leave the Trump administration.

He told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that he expected to be at the Energy Department at Thanksgiving – a timeline that didn’t exactly contradict the prevailing rumors. He was also less definitive about whether he planned to stay in the job through the end of the year.

”I don’t know,” he told The Journal. “I’m working at the will of the president, just like I always have.”

Perry is one of the longest-serving members of Trump’s Cabinet, having been confirmed in March 2017 to lead an agency he once wanted to eliminate – a fact made unforgettable by the time when Perry forgot during a 2012 presidential debate that he wanted to ax DOE.

The Texan has generally avoided the negative spotlight in Washington that captured other Trump aides, though environmentalists were no fans of his efforts to prop up energy sources like coal.

But that low-key tenure as energy secretary has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks as Democrats home in on Perry’s role in the Trump administration’s dealings with Ukraine, including his request that Trump call Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

While Perry has not been accused of wrongdoing, he appears to have been deeply enmeshed in the Ukrainian affairs at the center of the House’s impeachment inquiry against Trump.

The former governor on Wednesday told The Journal that he contacted Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, this spring after the president told him to do so to address his concerns about allegations of Ukrainian corruption.

“Visit with Rudy,” Trump told him, Perry recalled to The Journal.

Perry has insisted that he never heard Trump, Giuliani or any other presidential aides discuss the possibility of investigating former Vice President Joe Biden over Biden’s son’s business dealings in Ukraine, as the president did on his July phone call with the Ukrainian president.

But Perry’s own dealings with Ukraine have been extensive as he’s touted the need for Eastern European countries to become energy independent as a way to reduce Russia’s influence.

The Texan has met multiple times with Ukrainian leaders, both in Washington and abroad. He even subbed in for Vice President Mike Pence at Zelenskiy’s inauguration in May – a fact that earned him mention in the whistleblower complaint against Trump.

Perry this month also acknowledged that he asked Trump “multiple times” to call Zelenskiy, but about energy rather than the Bidens.

“Absolutely, I asked the president multiple times: ‘Mr. President, we think it is in the United States’ and in Ukraine’s best interest that you and the president of Ukraine have conversations and discuss the options that are there,'” he said. “So absolutely yes.”

Then energy chief had to address news reports that he urged Ukrainian officials to put two Texas businessmen on the supervisory board of a state-owned energy company in that country.

Perry denied that he pressured Ukraine to put anyone on the company’s board. He said that he was simply making recommendations on subject-matter experts – including those Texans, yes, but others, as well – at the request of the Ukrainian government.

“The idea that the AP story basically said that we said, ‘You put these people on there,’ is just not correct,” Perry said this month. “That was a totally dreamed-up story, best I can tell. We gave recommendations at the request of the Ukrainian government and will continue to.”

But those explanations have not spared him from Democrats’ ongoing investigations, particularly since Perry, along with two other Trump officials, reportedly dubbed themselves as the “three amigos” overseeing Ukraine-U.S. relations.

A group of House Democratic committee chairman last week issued a subpoena to Perry, giving him until this Friday to produce a wage range of documents covering his interactions with Trump, Ukrainian officials, administration officials and others.

Perry told Fox Business Network on Wednesday that his team will still reviewing the subpoena.

“Our general counsel and the White House counsel are going through the process right now, and I’m going to follow the lead of my counsel on that,” said Perry, who had previously indicated that he would work with Congress to provide them the information requested.

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©2019 The Dallas Morning News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.