Good riddance to bad garbage. A senior administration official told CNN Wednesday, without irony, that Scott Pruitt was “inching forward to the tipping point” where finally, apparently even the Trump administration would find his endless scandals intolerable. Pruitt resigned Thursday, while the subject of 14 federal probes, including investigation from the House Oversight Committee, the Government Accountability Office, the inspector general of his own agency, and the White House itself — meanwhile testifying before Congress. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) said about the stratified corruption revealed in Pruitt’s financial and professional decisions, “In almost all cases, the more we have learned, the worse they get,” and “You have failed as a steward of American taxpayer dollars and of the environment.” The man has a gift for understatement.
While under fire from two House panels, Pruitt hilariously quipped, “I’m not afraid to admit it has been a learning process.” Washington Post:
Democratic lawmakers pushed Pruitt hard on several fronts, prompting him to concede that he had known in advance of an aide’s pay hike, that he had not sought an ethics ruling on his rental of a condo from a lobbyist and that a costly soundproof phone booth installed in his office did not constitute the kind of secure communications facility commonly used by federal officials for classified discussions.
“I’m not afraid to admit that it has been a learning process,” he said.
Pruitt repeatedly faulted staff for spending decisions that have drawn intense heat and denied he had reassigned or demoted anyone who questioned those expenditures. Several people — including Pruitt’s former deputy chief of staff for operations, Kevin Chmielewski — have charged that they faced retaliation after challenging plans to spend taxpayer funds on first-class travel, office upgrades and other perks for him.
The EPA chief insisted there was “no truth” to such reports, adding, “I’m not aware of that ever happening.”
Referring more broadly to management and spending missteps at the agency, Pruitt told the panel, “If there are processes that have not been followed internally . . . I commit to make those changes prospectively.”
Too bad his tenure at EPA hasn’t been a dress rehearsal but the real thing and he doesn’t get a redo.
Now Trump canning his sorry ass isn’t the only bad news Pruitt got recently. Pruitt told Trump that he wanted Jeff Sessions’ job, perhaps as both a hail Mary play to avoid embarrassment being fired from EPA and also to give Trump a means to fire Rod Rosenstein and quash the Mueller probe. Apparently it didn’t work. CNN:
Embattled Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt directly appealed to President Donald Trump this spring to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and let him run the Department of Justice instead, according to three people familiar with the proposal. 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. Trump has complained loudly and publicly about the recusal for the last 14 months, and floated replacing Sessions with Pruitt as recently as April.
In a statement sent after initial publication of this story, Pruitt said, “This report is simply false. General Sessions and I are friends and I have always said I want nothing more than to see him succeed in his role.”
“General” Sessions? Either he meant to say attorney general, or perhaps Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, named for two confederate generals, is called General Sessions by his intimates. Who knows? And isn’t it interesting that Pruitt just assumes he’s got a political future in Oklahoma? Maybe he should lower the cone of silence and call Jim Jordan and ask him what to do.