Trump staff thinks Pruitt ‘going to be fired soon’

Source: Robin Bravender, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Some of President Trump’s top staffers believe Scott Pruitt will soon be fired.

Ethics allegations continue to swirl around the embattled EPA administrator, who is facing investigations by his own agency, by lawmakers and by the White House. Pruitt’s top ally in Congress has suggested he wants to scrutinize Pruitt’s behavior, and the White House spokeswoman this week offered only tepid support for the EPA boss.

“White House staff believe pretty uniformly that this guy is going to be fired soon,” a White House official told E&E News yesterday.

Pruitt is slated to testify before two House committees Thursday in his first appearance before Congress since an explosion of allegations about being too cozy with lobbyists, misusing taxpayer cash and sidelining staffers who oppose him.

“It’ll take herculean efforts for Pruitt to walk out not bruised and battered,” the White House official said. “I would be surprised if [Pruitt] keeps his job for much longer.”

Bloomberg reported yesterday that White House officials are cautioning GOP lawmakers and conservatives to temper their defense of Pruitt. And Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) expressed unease over some of the latest allegations.

Inhofe told E&E News yesterday, “There [are] some things in there I’d like to check out … because I have known him forever” (E&E Daily, April 24). Inhofe had offered an unusual “statement of support” for Pruitt earlier this month, calling him “instrumental in carrying out Trump’s deregulatory agenda.” Inhofe’s former staffer, EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler, is in line to fill in if Pruitt is ousted.

When asked yesterday whether the White House is concerned about Pruitt’s behavior, Trump’s spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters, “We’re continuing to review a number of the reports that you mentioned, and we’ll let you know if we have any changes on that front.”

That’s a change in tone from Trump’s tweet earlier this month saying, “Scott is doing a great job!”

But since then, bad headlines for Pruitt have continued. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney is probing Pruitt’s installation of a $43,000 privacy booth in EPA headquarters (E&E News PM, April 18).

It’s not clear what Trump — who has fired Cabinet secretaries via Twitter — plans to do, the White House official said.

“I’m confident that people are putting in front of him stuff that continues to drip out,” that person said. “At what point does the president decide this is just too much?”