Washington Post: “The president once viewed him as a loyal soldier and confidante, brainstorming on policy in the Oval Office and commiserating about Democratic attack dogs by phone. But Trump also has joked about some of Pruitt’s missteps… On more than one occasion, they said, the president congratulated [acting EPA Administrator Andrew] Wheeler for not attempting to buy a used mattress from the Trump Hotel, a move Pruitt once tried.”
New documents show that former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt “faced mounting financial pressures as he sought to balance his personal obligations in Oklahoma with his new role as a member of President Trump’s Cabinet in Washington,” the Washington Post reports.
“Pruitt, who made $189,600 a year as EPA administrator, incurred between $115,000 and $300,000 in legal fees last year… He sold off tens of thousands in investments during that same period.”
“The documents highlight the financial pressures facing the former administrator, who enlisted the help of staff to help his wife find work and to perform personal tasks for him.”
“Scott Pruitt’s brief, tumultuous tenure as the head of the EPA has left him disgraced in the eyes of many in Washington and across the country. But it may not have done him much harm in his home state,” the New York Times reports.
“Though a comeback for Mr. Pruitt is far from assured, some liberals and conservatives in Oklahoma agree he could engineer one in this oil- and gas-dependent state where he used to be attorney general. His hard-line anti-regulatory message remains popular here, and many of his supporters consider the spreading plume of scandal from his time at the E.P.A. the product of unfair liberal persecution.”
“Kevin Chmielewski, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) whistleblower who played a central role in Scott Pruitt’s downfall at the agency, said he feels vindicated by the administrator’s departure,” The Hill reports.
Said Chmielewski: “I hate to take a credit for a man losing his job, but I guess I’d have to say that I take the credit.”
“In the final hours of Scott Pruitt’s tenure as administrator, the Environmental Protection Agency moved on Friday to effectively grant a loophole that will allow a major increase in the manufacturing of a diesel freight truck that produces as much as 55 times the air pollution as trucks that have modern emissions controls,” the New York Times reports.
“The move by the E.P.A. came after intense lobbying by a small set of manufacturers that sell glider trucks, which use old engines built before new technologies significantly reduced emissions of particulates and nitrogen oxide that are blamed for asthma, lung cancer and other ailments.”
“Scott Pruitt resigned as EPA chief Thursday after White House Chief of Staff John Kelly delivered a message from the president that it was time for the scandal-plagued administrator to leave,” Bloomberg reports.
“Pruitt didn’t want to leave his post and was described as being devastated that he had to resign.”
“President Trump wanted Pruitt to leave, after revelations that the administrator’s public schedule had been altered to shield some meetings from public view, they said. Doctored schedules — which could be a criminal violation of the Federal Records Act — were effectively the final straw after a tenure marred by alleged ethical missteps. The administration knew that more damaging reports would emerge soon.”
Politico: “Scott Pruitt may be out of the EPA, but that doesn’t mean his troubles are over. Pruitt is still facing more than a dozen federal probes from his tenure as EPA administrator, and EPA’s watchdog and congressional investigators are promising to continue looking into his long list of ethical woes and lavish spending allegations. Those investigations have already prompted Pruitt to turn to an outside attorney for advice and set up a legal defense fund before his resignation.”
“EPA’s inspector general expects to finish and release as many as four separate reports on Pruitt this summer.”
Daily Beast: “Though well-liked by Trump until recently, Pruitt routinely alienated many senior staff members and would-be allies. Their subsequent press leaks and congressional whistleblowing made Pruitt too much of a liability even for Trump.”
“It was the defensiveness evident in his letter to the president that led to a routine mistreatment of his subordinates that led them to speak out—and may have sealed his fate.”
“The litany of former staffers with an ax to grind kept Pruitt controversy in the headlines for months, eventually managing to exhaust President Trump’s patience, White House sources say. Even Fox News, the reliably supportive cable news outlet from which the president often gleans political advice, had turned on Pruitt by the end.”
President Trump tweeted that he has accepted the resignation of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
Los Angeles Times: “The departure of the anti-regulatory crusader ends a bizarre and tumultuous chapter of the Trump administration that puzzled even some of the president’s staunchest supporters.”
“The spendthrift EPA chief has been a political liability for the White House for months, drawing the attention of federal investigators with scandal after scandal, many of which were linked to his lavish spending of taxpayer money and the use of his position to enrich his family. Pruitt leaves the post the target of more than a dozen official probes.”
Fox News quotes from Pruitt’s resignation letter to Trump:
It is extremely difficult for me to cease serving you in this role first because I count it a blessing to be serving you in any capacity, but also, because of the transformative work that is occurring.
However, the unrelenting attacks on me personally and my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us.
EPA chief Scott Pruitt “is now facing questions about whether aides deleted sensitive information about his meetings from his public schedule and potentially violated the law in doing so,” the New York Times reports.
“Last summer one of his senior schedulers, Madeline G. Morris, was fired by Mr. Pruitt’s former deputy chief of staff, Kevin Chmielewski, who said he let her go because she was questioning the practice of retroactively deleting meetings from the calendar. Mr. Chmielewski has emerged as a harsh critic of Mr. Pruitt after a bitter falling out that led to his departure from the agency as well.”
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt “directly appealed to President Trump this spring to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and let him run the Department of Justice instead,” CNN reports.
“In an Oval Office conversation with Trump, Pruitt offered to temporarily replace Sessions for 210 days under the Vacancies Reform Act, telling the President he would return to Oklahoma afterward to run for office.”
“Advisers quickly shot down the proposal, but it came at a time when Trump’s frustration with Sessions over his decision to recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation had resurfaced.”
EPA administrator Scott Pruitt kept a “secret” calendar to hide meetings or calls that he and his aides feared would “look bad” if leaked to the public, CNN reports.
Said Kevin Chmielewski, Pruitt’s former deputy chief of staff for operations: “We would have meetings what we were going to take off the official schedule. We had at one point three different schedules. One of them was one that no one else saw except three or four of us.”
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was publicly confronted by a teacher who urged him to resign in the middle of a dinner at a restaurant in Washington, the Daily Mail reports.
New York Times: “The chief ethics officer of the Environmental Protection Agency — the official whose main job is to help agency staffers obey government ethics laws — has been working behind the scenes to push for a series of independent investigations into possible improprieties by Scott Pruitt, the agency’s administrator, a letter sent this week says.”
Daily Beast: “On May 18, a top aide to EPA chief Scott Pruitt testified to a congressional committee that she had been tasked with procuring her boss a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Just days after news of that testimony broke, the aide, Pruitt’s now former director of scheduling Millan Hupp, submitted her resignation. But even though Hupp was gone from the agency, Pruitt wasn’t done with her.”
“According to three sources familiar with the conversations, Pruitt was livid over Hupp’s testimony, which he felt had been particularly humiliating. And he personally reached out to allies in the conservative movement, including some at the influential legal group the Federalist Society, to insist that she had lied about, or at least misunderstood, the request for a used Trump mattress. He also stressed that Hupp could not be trusted—the implication being that she should not be hired at their institutions.”
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt “discussed hiring a friend of a lobbyist family that owned a condominium he was renting for $50 a night, newly released emails suggest,” the New York Times reports.
“The files also show communications involving the lobbyist’s client interests that have not previously been disclosed, suggesting a closer relationship between the lobbyist, J. Steven Hart, and the agency than previously known.”
“An examination of Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt’s government email accounts has uncovered only one message he wrote to anyone outside EPA during his first 10 months in office — a number that has watchdogs questioning whether he is communicating in private,” Politico reports.
“EPA says Pruitt mainly holds discussions in person or over the phone, which would explain the meager electronic trail for his external communications. But Pruitt’s critics remain suspicious — especially in light of all the steps the agency has taken to conceal his activities, from refusing to release his meeting calendars to installing a $43,000 soundproof booth in his office.”
Washington Post: “On climate change, Pruitt shares Trump’s skepticism of mainstream science and has offered a reality-TV-style way to make their case: a televised show in which Pruitt would debate a climate scientist. In an effort to support Trump’s trade stance, he devised a plan to impose stricter fuel-efficiency standards on vehicles made by foreign automakers, even though White House lawyers argued it was illegal. And he has suggested he could take a leading role in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, on the grounds that he could strike a better deal with Mexico than the president’s current advisers.”