Rick Perry to step down as energy secretary by year’s end, reports say

Energy Secretary Rick Perry plans to leave his post in the Trump administration by December, according to The Washington Post and The New York Times.

No formal announcement has been made.

“While the Beltway media has breathlessly reported on rumors of Secretary Perry’s departure for months, he is still the Secretary of Energy and a proud member of President Trump’s Cabinet. One day the media will be right. Today is not that day,” Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes told CNN.

In an administration with high turnover, Perry is among one of the longest serving Cabinet members who has remained on the job since the start of Donald Trump’s presidency.

He was confirmed as energy secretary on March 2, 2017, with a 62-37 vote in the Senate. The former Texas governor, who has largely kept a low profile throughout his tenure, will likely return to the private sector in the energy industry, two people close to Perry told the New York Times.

Perry’s plan to leave office was first reported by Politico. CNN has not independently verified the reports.

Perry intends to announce in the coming weeks that he will step down, two people familiar with his plans told the Times. The newspaper reported that Perry has cleared his future calendar and has been wrapping up pet projects.

The Post notes that it is unclear whether Trump would nominate a successor, given that he has said he likes having acting officials in Cabinet positions.

He’s close with Trump, often receiving calls from the President on his cell phone, but isn’t at the White House as much as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a source had told CNN, adding that’s one of the reasons Perry has lasted this long in the administration, where shakeups among top officials have become commonplace.

Congressional Democrats have recently taken interest in Perry’s meetings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in light of the House impeachment inquiry into Trump’s actions in Ukraine.

Perry has met with Zelensky at least three times while in office, including when he replaced Vice President Mike Pence in leading a US delegation to Zelensky’s inauguration last spring.

Perry pledged on Wednesday to work with lawmakers and “answer all their questions” regarding Ukraine.

CNN’s Gregory Wallace and Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.