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White House Support For EPA Chief Crumbling

WASHINGTON - President Trump’s support for his ethically-challenged EPA administrator Scott Pruitt appears to be crumbling in advance of two come-to-Jesus congressional hearings Thursday.

White House aides are cautioning Republicans on the Hill to temper their defense of Pruitt. And at today’s White House briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president’s team is reviewing multiple allegations of ethical misconduct against Pruitt: 

We’re reviewing some of those allegations. However, Administrator Pruitt has done a good job of implementing the president’s policies, particularly on deregulation, making the United States less energy dependent and become more energy independent. Those are good things. However, the other things certainly are something we are monitoring and looking at and I will keep you posted.

“We trust that Scott Pruitt’s days of chiseling the taxpayers and pandering to polluters are numbered,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “He should have been dismissed long ago.”

Four Republicans have now joined the chorus of congressional critics calling for Pruitt’s resignation. According to Bloomberg Politics, “It’s the dramatic shift among Pruitt’s allies on Capitol Hill -- including some top lawmakers who have heaped praise on the administrator -- that is most notable.”

On Thursday, Pruitt will testify in back-to-back hearings before two House committees. The hearings are ostensibly to discuss the EPA budget, but he’s expected to face tough questions about his lavish personal spending and conflicts of interest.

Over the weekend, news reports showed that Pruitt and J. Steven Hart, the energy lobbyist married to the owner of the condo Pruitt rented for $50 a day, did in fact meet to discuss business last year. Pruitt and the EPA had earlier denied any meeting. 

Last week, a group of members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which Pruitt will testify before on Thursday, called on Republican leaders of the panel to have Pruitt testify under oath.

“Scott Pruitt should be under oath the minute he leaves his house, let alone every time he testifies before Congress,” said EWG’s Cook. “Otherwise, there is no guarantee you’ll get anything remotely close to the truth.”

 

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