Environment

What Was Pruitt Doing In Morocco?

ABC News: “The 47-hour journey in Morocco was already drawing congressional scrutiny and criticism from outside groups because of the lack transparency over why Pruitt was in the country and what he was doing while he was there.”

“Conservative congressional estimates put the cost of the trip at more than $40,000, and because of travel snags, Pruitt and his aides spent two days in Paris at high-end hotels. Pruitt did not publicly announce he was going ahead of time, did not bring reporters along, and when he finally released copies of his itinerary in response to Freedom of Information requests from ABC News and other news organizations, the bulk of the schedule was blacked out.”

Pruitt Broke Law By Installing Secure Phone Booth

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt installed a $43,000 soundproof phone booth at agency headquarters last fall, which “violated the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, which prohibits an agency from paying more than $5,000 to redecorate or furnish a presidential appointee’s office without approval,” the Washington Post reports.

Trump Asks to Review Material Seized from Cohen

“President Trump asked a federal judge Sunday night to allow him to review documents that FBI agents seized from the office of his longtime lawyer before criminal investigators have a chance to see the material,” the Washington Post reports.

“The request underscores the high stakes in an ongoing legal fight in federal court in New York, where Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer, is also fighting to get a chance to review material seized as part of a criminal investigation of his business dealings.”

Why Does Pruitt Have Four Email Addresses?

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt “has used four separate agency email addresses since taking office, according to Senate Democrats and an EPA official, prompting concerns among agency lawyers that the EPA has not disclosed all the documents it would normally release to the public under federal records requests,” the Washington Post reports.

“Pruitt’s four email addresses include one in the conventional agency format, pruitt.scott@epa.gov, as well as three others: esp7@epa.gov, adm14pruitt@epa.gov and sooners7@epa.gov, an apparent reference to the University of Oklahoma, whose football team Pruitt follows closely.”

Lawmakers Claim Further Spending Abuses by Pruitt

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt “insisted on staying in luxury hotels that were costlier than allowed by government standards, while also pushing to fly on an airline not on the government’s approved list so he could accrue more frequent flier miles, one of his top former deputies at agency has told congressional investigators,” the New York Times reports.

“The new allegations are detailed in a scathing six-page letter signed by two senators and three House lawmakers — all Democrats — whose staff members met this week with Kevin Chmielewski, who served as the E.P.A.’s deputy chief of staff until he was removed from his post after raising objections to this and other spending.”

GOP Fears They Couldn’t Confirm Pruitt Replacement

“There’s one big reason Senate Republicans are standing staunchly with Scott Pruitt: Confirming a replacement might be impossible. Even as the embattled EPA administrator faced another day of difficult headlines on Monday, there is no push from the Senate GOP to shove Pruitt out,” Politico reports.

“Instead, Republicans are gently rapping him for his ethical transgressions and praising his deregulatory regime. There’s no question that GOP senators are growing tired of defending Pruitt. But turning on him would likely backfire, as the shrunken Republican majority would struggle to confirm any EPA administrator, let alone another one as conservative and driven to overturn former President Barack Obama’s environmental rules and regulations.”

Email Contradicts Pruitt’s Account of Controversial Raises

An internal email that suggests EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt “personally signed off on a controversial pay raise for a favored aide last month is roiling the agency,” The Atlantic reports.

Last week, Pruitt was pressed in an interview by Fox News’s Ed Henry but denied any knowledge of the episode: “I didn’t know they got the pay raises until yesterday.”

Said one administration official: “My jaw dropped when he said that.”

Rounds Says Pruitt Criticism Is Just ‘Nitpicking’

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) defended embattled Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, saying much of the scrutiny seems to be “nitpicking,” NBC News reports.

Said Rounds: “I don’t know how much of it is overblown and how much of it is accurate, to be honest. I’m not going to call it fake news. I’ll say in some cases we’ll overblow something, but in this particular case Mr. Pruitt has been doing a good job as the secretary of the EPA. He is moving forward exactly as this president said he would.”

Pruitt Spent Millions on Security

“EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s concern with his safety came at a steep cost to taxpayers as his swollen security detail blew through overtime budgets and at times diverted officers away from investigating environmental crimes,” the AP reports.

“Altogether, the agency spent millions of dollars for a 20-member full-time detail that is three times the size of his predecessor’s part-time security contingent.”

Pruitt Launches Campaign to Save His Job

“EPA chief Scott Pruitt and his allies in the administration are on a mission to save his job — offering a blitz of interviews to friendly media outlets while separately accusing a former agency staffer of a cascade of damaging leaks. But the White House made it clear Wednesday that President Trump is not pleased with all the negative headlines surrounding him,” Politico reports.

“Pruitt’s challenges appeared to deepen when White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders — asked why Trump is ‘OK’ with the leader of the Environmental Protection Agency renting a condo from a lobbyist for $50 a night — responded that ‘the president’s not.’”

The Daily Beast reports White House chief of staff John Kelly called Pruitt to say that, “though he has the full public confidence of President Trump for now, the flow of negative and damning stories needed to stop soon.”

Jonathan Swan: “If nothing else bad comes out against Pruitt, they’ll probably ride through the storm with him. But should more damaging stories surface — especially ones that demonstrate poor ethical judgement — Pruitt could be abandoned in a flash. Trump is uneasy about the situation, and has his finger in the wind.”

Pruitt Will Start Flying Coach

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will start flying coach instead of first class at least part of the time, he told CBS News.

Politico: “Pruitt had been flying first or business class consistently because his security detail was alarmed by hostile encounters while traveling… Pruitt on Wednesday said he has instructed his security detail ‘to accommodate those security threats in alternate ways, including — up to and including, flying coach going forward.”