Trump Resists Mounting Pressure To Fire Scandal-Struck EPA Chief Scott Pruitt

Posted April 08, 2018

President Donald Trump asked Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt about the controversies surrounding him during a White House meeting on Friday, an administration official said. According to the AP, many members of Pruitt's security detail have racked up so much overtime-in the first three months of the year alone-that they've already reached annual salary caps in excess of $160,000.

However, a nationwide search of state and federal court records by AP found no case where anyone has been arrested or charged with threatening Pruitt.

Christine Todd Whitman, who was previously an EPA administrator below President George W. Bush and a Republican governor of New Jersey, stated alleged moral lapses by Pruitt in addition to different members of Trump's Cupboard are undermining public belief in authorities.

The official, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal administration matters, said that the president had also reviewed the lease documents for a bedroom in a Capitol Hill condominium that Pruitt had rented from a lobbyist a year ago.

The top House Democrat called for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to step down after a string of recent, high-profile reports calling into question the EPA chief's decision making.

Total security costs reportedly are almost $3 million when pay is added to travel expenses.

Pruitt has said his use of first-class airfare was initiated following unpleasant interactions with other travelers. This week, the committee was provided two memos from the EPA's designated ethics official related to the administrator's living arrangements, the aide said.

"This was like an Airbnb situation", Pruitt told Fox News on Wednesday, in an exclusive interview in which he defended his actions amid allegations of questionable spending. He also has championed budget cuts and staff reductions at the agency so deep that even Republican budget hawks in Congress refused to implement them.

In recent weeks, Pruitt has been the subject of multiple negative reports that have raised ethics concerns about his frequent first class travel, his sweetheart deal to rent a condo from the wife of an energy lobbyist, and big pay raises reportedly afforded to top aides without White House approval.

The Wall Road Journal editorial board wrote Friday that Trump ought to stand behind Pruitt, saying the administrator is being focused by individuals who do not like his selections on the EPA.

In August, the EPA's inspector general began investigating a number of expensive, taxpayer-funded trips Pruitt took.

A rising variety of members of Congress are elevating questions on Pruitt, demanding paperwork and investigations pertaining to the housing association, statements from company ethics officers, cash paid by the EPA for a door damaged down on the townhouse by Pruitt's safety workforce, and the choice to grant raises below the Secure Consuming Water Act.

But other sources within EPA and documents released through public information requests help provide a window into the ballooning costs.

Almost three dozen EPA security and law enforcement agents were assigned to Pruitt, according to a summary of six weeks of weekly schedules obtained by Democratic Sen. At least 20 employees were placed on the detail, some of them reassigned from field work, according a letter from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat. Chmielewski is on leave without pay, Reeder is on an "executive in residence" fellowship at American University, and Weese is no longer the head of Pruitt's security detail.

Pruitt was accompanied by nine aides and a security detail during a trip to Italy in June that cost more than $120,000.

Last year, the EPA spent almost $9,000 on increased counter-surveillance precautions for Pruitt, including hiring a private contractor to sweep his office for hidden listening devices and installing sophisticated biometric locks for the doors. She flew coach and was not accompanied by security during her off hours. The first-class travel arrangement also gave Pruitt and Perrotta "access to VIP airport lounges", according to Friday's report.

According to the San Francisco Gate and Business Insider, in recent weeks, Pruitt requested a $100,000-per-month private jet membership, a bulletproof vehicle and about $70,000 worth of bulletproof furniture-those requests were denied.

Those purchases were not approved. The EPA put the information back in when the OIG called them on it, but then went behind their backs and submitted a $42 million budget request on the OIG's behalf to the White House anyways.