In spite of what Scott Pruitt may believe, the environment capable of sustaining human life is composed of finite resources. That may explain why anyone with even a hint of a brain was extremely concerned when Pruitt took the helm at the Environmental Protection Agency under President Trump.
Thankfully, it appears Mr. Pruitt’s days of unconditional support from the White House are dwindling, and the end of his tenure appears to be near.
According to a report by Bloomberg, White House officials are cautioning Republican lawmakers and other conservative allies to temper their defense of Scott Pruitt. Two individuals familiar with the discussions corroborated this claim.
Pruitt’s hold over the Trump administration began to falter earlier this year when the strange scandal of his surprisingly inexpensive DC condo revealed that he was renting from the wife an energy sector lobbyist. Initially, some Republicans remained silent on the issue, but many have ramped up their complaints in recent days.
Presumably, their scrutiny comes from the sheer quantity of scandals currently under investigation, from Pruitt’s frequent travel to his home state of Oklahoma, to his questionable spending decisions at the EPA, to the raises he gave two top aides. Allegations have also surfaced recently from employees who claim they were sidelined after they challenged the administrator’s decisions, turning heads and raising concern across the capital.
Pruitt is additionally slated to discuss the EPA budget in front of two congressional committees this week, a task members of the White House reportedly feel he is not equipped to handle.
“We’re reviewing some of those allegations,” White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters. Trump has been adamant, in spite of evidence to the contrary, that Pruitt hasn’t done anything wrong, according to Sanders. She did acknowledge that the White House was “continuing to review a number of the reports” about him.
Other members of Trump’s party, including those who once defended Pruitt publicly, now disagree.
Senator Jim Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, told reporters Tuesday he had become concerned about some of the recent allegations against the administrator. “If they are all accurate, I would be very disturbed. And quite frankly I am checking to see their level of accuracy,” he told reporters.
South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy heads the House Oversight Committee that is investigating Pruitt. He openly mocked the EPA chief’s reliance on first-class airfare, an expense made on the taxpayers dime, supposedly to avoid “escalating threats.”
“So the notion that I’ve got to fly first class because I don’t want people to be mean to me? You need to go into another line of work if you don’t want people to be mean to you — like maybe a monk, where you don’t come in contact with anyone.”
(If only he would give that response to Pruitt’s boss, the equally thin-skinned Trump)
Even the normally unifying action of undoing anything Obama accomplished as president isn’t enough to save Pruitt. Wyoming Republican John Barrasso once hailed Pruitt’s work undermining Obama’s vast array of environment-saving regulations as “instrumental in returning the agency to its original mission,” which is apparently not the health and safety of citizens. Now, even he is cooling on Pruitt.
Barrasso changed his tune after the Government Accountability Office found on April 16 that Pruitt’s EPA had violated spending laws after he failed to alert Congress to the $43,000 soundproof phone booth he wanted in his office, since apparently its 1983 wherever Pruitt’s office exists.
One common thread amongst all of these Republicans is the phrase, “it is really up to the president to decide,” taking their typical spineless position where they don’t agree with Trump or his actions, but don’t want to say it explicitly.
The problem is, the last time Trump acknowledged Pruitt, he defended him in a tweet:
While Security spending was somewhat more than his predecessor, Scott Pruitt has received death threats because of his bold actions at EPA. Record clean Air & Water while saving USA Billions of Dollars. Rent was about market rate, travel expenses OK. Scott is doing a great job!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2018
Certainly, this will join the litany of Trump tweets filed under “Well, this hasn’t aged well,” especially considering this particular tweet runs diametrically opposite to the White House’s closed-door suggestion to downplay support of the shamed EPA head.
Pruitt, for his part, has skirted the radar in recent weeks. Though he does pop out for some official business, he is largely avoiding media appearances as scrutiny against him gains steam.
Too bad he didn’t get that soundproof booth in before he was caught. Then, he might have saved himself a trip to the unemployment office.