President Donald Trump on Friday reiterated his support for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.
While seated next to Pruitt, Trump told CNN “he still has confidence in the job he is doing,” White House correspondent Ryan Nobles tweeted on Friday.
— Ryan Nobles (@ryanobles) May 11, 2018
Trump’s remarks come days after the New York Times reported senior White House staffers urged the president to fire Pruitt. “The president’s enthusiasm may be cooling because of the ongoing cascade of alleged ethical and legal missteps,” aides told The Times on Monday.
However, Trump has been consistently supportive of Pruitt. The EPA administrator is “doing a great job,” Trump said in April. The White House is investigating accusations against Pruitt and his staff.
Pruitt is under fire from Democrats and environmentalists for alleged ethical violations and overspending, including regularly flying first class, expanding his security detail, and increasing staff salaries despite White House disapproval.
Conservative movement leaders have come out in support of Pruitt. Energy industry CEOs, including oilman Harold Hamm, have also implored Trump to keep Pruitt on, citing his success in rolling back environmental regulations.
Some White House staffers have told Trump that Pruitt’s number two, Andrew Wheeler, could continue the administrator’s work if he’s forced out, NYT reported. But Pruitt is needed to implement Trump’s agenda, Republicans have stressed.
Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas also came to Pruitt’s defense, saying he’s needed to “drain the regulatory swamp.”
EPA finalized 22 deregulatory actions in 2017, rolling back up to $1 billion in regulatory costs, the agency reported in March. EPA has another 44 deregulatory actions in the works, including the repeal of the Clean Power Plan and Clean Water Rule.
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