As EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt tries to survive an avalanche of scandals and corruption allegations, reporters asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders yesterday about the Oklahoma Republican’s future.
“We’re reviewing some of those allegations,” Sanders responded. After praising Pruitt’s work on deregulation – which is to say, the EPA chief is targeting environmental safeguards – she added, “[T]he other things certainly are something that we’re monitoring and looking at.”
Other Republicans, meanwhile, have seen enough. ThinkProgress noted yesterday:
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is facing more friendly fire after this weekend, as a fourth Republican representative along with a Fox News host called on Pruitt to resign following a barrage of scandals.
On Sunday, in response to a question on Twitter, Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) said that Pruitt “should resign” and that he was the “wrong fit from the start for [sic] agency dedicated to protecting our environment.”
LoBiondo, who’s retiring from Congress this year and is therefore immune to intra-party pressure, is only the fourth House Republican to call for the scandal-plagued EPA chief to resign. Or put another way, there are 237 GOP lawmakers in the House, and 98% of them are comfortable leaving Pruitt right where he is, the corruption allegations notwithstanding.
Of course, Pruitt’s fate will probably not be decided by Congress; the decision will be made in Donald Trump’s White House. And on that front, Bloomberg Politics reported late yesterday that Team Trump is “cautioning” its allies about defending the embattled EPA administrator.
The warnings come as several top GOP lawmakers have stepped forward to publicly criticize Pruitt in recent days, marking a dramatic turn of fortune for one of the most conservative members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet who has been heralded for dismantling Obama-era regulations.
Republicans are now sharpening their criticisms about Pruitt amid a revelation that he met at least once with the lobbyist whose wife rented him a bedroom on Capitol Hill.
If true, it would appear Pruitt’s thin ice is melting.
Postscript: Richard Painter, former ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, told The New Republic yesterday that Pruitt may be “vulnerable to prosecution” for bribery, though he added that it’s difficult to convict politicians on bribery charges, and it’s unlikely Trump’s Department of Justice would go after Pruitt.