Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt on Monday became the latest member of the Trump administration to be called out while dining at a D.C. restaurant when Kristin Mink walked up, introduced her two-year-old child, and demanded Pruitt resign because, as she put it, "We deserve to have somebody at the EPA who actually does protect our environment, somebody who believes in climate change and takes it seriously, for the benefit of all of us, including our children."
"Hi, I just wanted to urge you to resign because of what you're doing to the environment and our country. This is my son. He loves animals. He loves clean air. He loves clean water. Meanwhile, you're slashing strong fuel standards for cars and trucks, for the benefits of big corporations," Mink said.
Noting Pruitt's contentious condo rental from an energy lobbyist's wife and the more than a dozen other federal probes he's prompted, she concluded, "I would urge you to resign before your scandals push you out."
Mink posted the video—with a message saying Pruitt did not respond and left the restaurant—to her personal Facebook account along with a link to the Sierra Club's petition imploring President Donald Trump and Congress #BootPruitt because, as the group says, the EPA chief's "dirty dealings put us in danger." While Pruitt's mountain of scandals involving a used hotel mattress, pricey moisturizer, and Chick-fil-A have elicited outrage, so has the polluter-friendly deregulatory agenda he is pushing through at the behest of the chemical and fossil fuel industries.
"This man is directly and significantly harming my child's—and every child's—health and future with decisions to roll back environmental regulations for the benefit of big corporations, while he uses taxpayer money to fund a lavish lifestyle. He's corrupt, he's a liar, he's a climate change denier, and as a public servant, he should not be able to go out in public without hearing from the citizens he's hurting."
In her post, Mink wrote of Pruitt: "This man is directly and significantly harming my child's—and every child's—health and future with decisions to roll back environmental regulations for the benefit of big corporations, while he uses taxpayer money to fund a lavish lifestyle. He's corrupt, he's a liar, he's a climate change denier, and as a public servant, he should not be able to go out in public without hearing from the citizens he's hurting."
This confrontation comes just two weeks after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was driven out of a Mexican restaurant in D.C. by members of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and, at another D.C. establishment, a patron called Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller a "fascist," over their roles in the Trump administration's family separation policy.
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Critics of the policy also protested outside of Nielsen's Alexandria, Virginia home and Miller's apartment complex in D.C. In addition to those events, the owner of a Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave.
These recent encounters between members of the Trump adminstration and the public have provoked an intense national debate over "incivility." Michelangelo Signorile wrote last week for The Huffington Post, "It's outrageous, but not at all shocking, to see calls for 'civility' from some Beltway media pundits and prominent Democratic operatives and politicians in the wake of the recent in-your-face protests of Trump officials."
As Signorile explained:
Acting up is not about impulsiveness and feeling good (though it does feel good to speak truth to power). It's about saving lives by strategically targeting people for protest. Yes, shaming does work. ...It's not about changing the minds of Trump supporters. It's about lighting a spark under those who aren't paying attention―many of whom may have dropped out under the weight of the daily atrocities―or who might now feel hope when they see others speaking out. More strident protest also forces the media to cover issues―even as journalists carp and complain about the tactics―and to focus on the fact that many Americans see a national emergency unfolding.
"So, it's time to raise hell. It's time to scream out loud. It's time to wake up everyone we can, before it's too late," he concluded. "Let it not be said that we stayed silent and 'let the Trump team eat in peace' while it rather rapidly turned America into a fascist state."
This post has been updated to clarify details about the incident at the Red Hen restaurant.