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I’ve written quite a bit lately about Scott Pruitt, the embattled EPA administrator who has shown a casual indifference to the fate of the planet and a malevolent coziness with the fossil-fuel industry, including a shady-as-hell condo deal with a lobbyist’s wife in DC (for which he fell behind on payments, despite the low rate) [Politico]. Now we’re learning some more info Pruitt’s apparent abuses of his office. Let’s dive in:
- From CBS: “Several weeks after taking the helm of the Environmental Protection Agency, Administrator Scott Pruitt was running late and stuck in Washington, D.C., traffic. Sources tell CBS News that he wanted to use his vehicle’s lights and sirens to get to his official appointment, but the lead agent in charge of his security detail advised him that sirens were to be used only in emergencies. Less than two weeks later that agent was removed from Pruitt’s detail, reassigned to a new job within the EPA.” Wait, it gets better: “Special Agent Eric Weese, a 16-year veteran of the EPA, was replaced by Pasquale ‘Nino’ Perotta. Perrotta now leads Pruitt’s unprecedented 24-hour Protective Service Detail, which determined that Pruitt needed to fly in first class because of ‘specific, ongoing threats associated with the Administrator’s air travel.’”
- Now to The New York Times: “At least five officials at the Environmental Protection Agency, four of them high-ranking, were reassigned or demoted, or requested new jobs in the past year after they raised concerns about the spending and management of the agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt. The concerns included unusually large spending on office furniture and first-class travel, as well as certain demands by Mr. Pruitt for security coverage, such as requests for a bulletproof vehicle and an expanded 20-person protective detail, according to people who worked for or with the E.P.A. and have direct knowledge of the situation. Mr. Pruitt bristled when the officials—four career E.P.A. employees and one Trump administration political appointee—confronted him, said the people, who were not authorized to speak publicly.”
- “The White House declined to comment on Thursday, referring questions to the E.P.A., though President Trump, as he boarded Air Force One, said he had confidence in Mr. Pruitt. And in speaking to reporters on the plane, he described Mr. Pruitt as ‘very courageous,’ while suggesting he was reviewing the complaints about him. ‘I’ll make that determination,’ Mr. Trump said. ‘But he’s a good man, he’s done a terrific job. But I’ll take a look at it.’”
- “Mr. Pruitt declined to be interviewed for this article, but he has spoken with conservative media organizations. In those interviews, he has cried foul about a flurry of media reports about his regular first-class travel, his use of an obscure administrative provision to increase the salaries of two favored aides (over White House objections) and his below-market rental agreement for accommodations in Washington with the wife of an energy lobbyist whose clients won favorable treatment from the E.P.A. The disclosures, he has suggested, were the handiwork of critics who were resorting to personal attacks to derail the deregulatory agenda being pursued by his agency and the Trump administration.”
WHAT IT MEANS: Nothing about Scott Pruitt suggests he’s even remotely on the level—and yet, the Trump administration has reportedly considered him as a potential replacement for Jeff Sessions, should he be forced out as attorney general. On the other hand, this sudden flood of bad press suggests that someone in the administration wants him gone, and soon. Will he survive? In any other White House, not a chance. In this one, who the hell knows?
Related: White House and California officials are expected to reopen talks over car emissions standards, which the EPA announced earlier this week it would roll back.