White House “sources” are behind a series of leaks in recent days meant to undermine Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt as he prepares for two Capitol Hill hearings.
Pruitt is preparing for a lashing from Democratic lawmakers this Thursday related to alleged overspending and ethical lapses, but White House leakers seem to be trying to undercut Pruitt before he testifies in Congress.
First came a Bloomberg News report on Monday that “White House officials are cautioning Republican lawmakers and other conservative allies to temper their defense” of Pruitt, citing two anonymous sources “familiar with the discussions.”
The next day, “two sources familiar with Pruitt’s preparation” for his dual hearings told The Daily Beast that “EPA has turned down an offer from the White House to help prepare the administrator for what is sure to be a bruising few hours of questions about the ethics and government spending controversies that have dogged him of late.”
The White House offered Pruitt’s staff help, got turned down, then immediately leaked it to the media — and only one day after White House staffers leaked to the press about clamping down on GOP support for Pruitt. Should it be a surprise the EPA turned down their “help”?
Also, White House sources told CNN’s Jim Acosta and Elizabeth Landers on Tuesday that top officials were “debating whether Pruitt should remain at EPA.”
“Aides question whether Pruitt has ethics for government service and say he remains a major distraction,” Acosta said.
Top WH officials debating whether Pruitt should remain at EPA, sources tell us. WH aides question whether Pruitt has ethics for government service and say he remains a major distraction. One senior WH official says Pruitt “should stay.” w/ @ElizLanders @JDiamond1 @PamelaBrownCNN
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) April 24, 2018
Internal deliberations on Pruitt:
One senior White House official told me this morning of Pruitt, “He should stay.”
But another White House source tells @Acosta that Pruitt’s array of ethical questions remains a major distraction for the White House.
— Elizabeth Landers (@ElizLanders) April 24, 2018
Pruitt’s has come under fire from Democrats and environmentalists for allegedly spending too much money on travel and office perks and alleged ethical lapses, including temporarily renting a room in a condo co-owned by the wife of a top D.C. lobbyist.
Democrats have called for Pruitt’s removal, and some lawmakers have begun investigating the administrator’s actions. EPA’s Office of Inspector General also has open investigations into Pruitt’s actions and spending.
Reports have suggested Republicans are cooling their support for Pruitt, but only a couple of House GOP members have called for Pruitt to step down. Conservative groups want President Donald Trump to keep Pruitt in office to continue the deregulatory effort.
“Congressional Hearings are an opportunity to reiterate the accomplishments of President Trump’s EPA, which includes: working to repeal Obama’s Clean Power Plan and Waters of the United States, providing regulatory certainty, and declaring a war on lead – all while returning to Reagan-era staffing levels,” EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Trump has only expressed support for Pruitt in public.
While Security spending was somewhat more than his predecessor, Scott Pruitt has received death threats because of his bold actions at EPA. Record clean Air & Water while saving USA Billions of Dollars. Rent was about market rate, travel expenses OK. Scott is doing a great job!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2018
This post have been updated to include a statement from an EPA spokesman.
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