Energy Secretary Rick Perry is planning to leave the Trump administration and is finalizing the terms and timing of his departure, according to two people familiar with his plans.
While Perry’s exit isn’t imminent and one person familiar with the matter said the former Texas governor still hasn’t fully made up his mind, three people said he has been seriously considering his departure for weeks. All of the people spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations.
An Energy Department spokeswoman, Shaylyn Hynes, rejected the idea that Perry would be leaving the administration any time soon. “He is happy where he is serving President Trump and leading the Department of Energy,” she said in a statement.
The White House press office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Perry, an Air Force veteran who was previously Texas’s longest-serving governor, has enjoyed a good rapport with President Donald Trump. Trump personally asked Perry if he’d take over as Homeland Security secretary, before the president asked Kirstjen Nielsen to resign earlier this month, two of the people said. Perry declined, they said.
Perry has been preparing the agency’s deputy secretary, Dan Brouillette, for the transition, two people said. It’s unclear if Trump would name Brouillette as secretary. Part of Perry’s motivation in seeking to leave before the end of Trump’s first term is a desire to build his income before retiring, two people said.
Considered for Pentagon
Perry, 69, was previously considered for Defense Secretary, but ultimately was tapped to lead the Department of Energy. The agency has an annual budget of around $30 billion and is responsible for work ranging from safe-guarding nuclear weapons to maintaining the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
During his tenure, Perry championed the national laboratory system and other department programs that the Trump administration sought to cut, and he tried unsuccessfully to rescue unprofitable coal and nuclear plants.
Perry hasn’t been a seamless fit with the Energy Department, where the two most recent secretaries had PhDs in physics. Perry was an animal science major at Texas A&M, and he once advocated abolishing the department during his own presidential bid.
Rumors of Perry’s departure from the agency have popped up before. Trump is said to have considered him as a contender to lead the Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs departments.
Perry is familiar with border issues from his nearly 15 years as governor of Texas, but his views on immigration have not always aligned with Trump’s. In 2012, Perry’s presidential campaign foundered after he accused his Republican opponents of not having a “heart” about immigrants. Texas has a large Latino population, and Perry helped advance legislation that let undocumented children of immigrants pay in-state tuition for college.