Interim EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler railed against President Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign in a now-deleted Facebook post, calling him a “bully” and lacking acumen as a businessman.
According to a Friday Politico report, Wheeler was then working as an environmental adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’s campaign.
“[A]s a businessman, he really hasn’t been that successful. He is a successful PR person, but not a businessman,” he wrote on Facebook in February 2016. “[H]e has more baggage then all of the other Republican candidates combined.”
“He is a bully,” he continued. “This alone should disqualify him from the White House.”
Wheeler, a veteran coal industry lobbyist, told Politico that he recanted after he heard Trump speak on energy issues that June.
“He gave a 40-minute energy speech where he didn’t use notes or a teleprompter,” he told Politico. “And as I have stated previously it was the most comprehensive energy speech by a presidential candidate I had ever heard.”
Trump seemed unbothered by the one-time criticism when he spoke to reporters on Thursday.
“[Wheeler] has been with me actually a long time,” Trump said. “He was very much an early Trump supporter. He was with us on the campaign. He is a very environmental person. He’s a big believer, and he’s going to do a fantastic job.”
Trump’s unusual “let bygones be bygones” attitude may be due to Wheeler’s seeming commitment to an even more aggressively deregulatory tenure than former Administrator Scott Pruitt, and unlikeliness to follow in Pruitt’s scandal-swamped footsteps.